It’s often said that one should dehydrate their seeds & nuts at less than 47-49 degrees to retain important nutrients. Yet it’s very rarely said exactly what nutrients, and to what effect, so allow me to lay it out here.
Those precious vitamins
First off, actual data trumps our cock-eyed rationale on what may be the case and why. Here is a vitamin comparison chart of nuts & seeds from the USDA. You’ll quickly see that there’s no dramatic difference between raw & cooked.
Those vitamins most vulnerable to temperature (50-100 degrees) are vitamin C & B5 (pantothenic acid). Now I don’t think that creeping under 50 at 47 degrees for many hours is going to have a drastically lessened impact. Yet even if I grant 47 as a magic number the importance of retaining these vitamins relies on some misguided valuations.
Simply put, there are very small amounts of C & B5 in nuts & seeds. Just as there’s a little bit of gold in one’s mobile phone, the amount in question is too little to concern one’s self with.
Then of course, there’s the all important enzymes! This is supposedly ‘living’ part of the food that proponents hold on to so dearly.
First off, the enzymes are about as alive as the experimental bicarb+vinegar volcano I made in primary school. Enzymes are not alive, they are chemical catalysts.
So the supposed benefit of the enzymes is a greater ability to digest the food in question. Yet any real search for the enzymatic ability of nuts & seeds leads to little result, and of course we do well digesting the vast majority of foodstuffs without any help from external enzymes.
We can play logic games all day, yet as I love to say (along with some clever chap named Churchill)
“No matter how good the theory, one must occasionally check the results”
Roasting significantly improved the disintegration rates of almonds and increased loss of solids during simulated digestion, which is well correlated with the decrease in the rigidity of almond samples after absorbing gastric juice.
Microstructure of digested almonds showed breakage and breach of cell walls due to acid hydrolysis. Intercellular and intracellular channels formed in almonds during roasting are important for penetration of gastric juice that may facilitate an effective digestion.
Thus, the micro-fractures created in the roasted seeds & nuts were of greater benefit to digestion than the raw potential of seeds & nuts. Case closed, I reckon.
This stands to reason, for if the nut were able to digest itself it probably wouldn’t have made it very far in their hundreds of millions of years old evolution.
Alas, this living food fraud is a symptom of raw foodists lacking compelling arguments (not to say there’s no case to be made! But in this case, they’re clutching at straws) and the tenacity to wade beyond the shallow pool of raw-food-mum-blogs.
Moral of the story: health-promoting facts should be tested like gold. If some shtick seems all too promotional, I say, hold it up to the light f thorough scientific validation.
For all such needs, go to pubmed.co.uk