By Shalin Khanna
Nuts and dry fruits are healthy and nutritious snack options that can be enjoyed in moderation during the summer season. By incorporating them into your diet in the right way, you can boost your health and energy levels this summer. Soaking and sprouting dry fruits is a concept that is very widely followed in Indian households. However, it has not been taken up by the organised dry fruits industry in India and has not been leveraged for its benefits in the industry around the world. Soaking helps to soften nuts & dry fruits, making them easier to digest. It also helps to release nutrients and makes them more bio-available. Shalin Khanna, CMO, ProV Foods, shares his insights on how “sprouting dry fruits and nuts” is a great way to consume dry fruits and seeds in the extremely hot and humid Indian summer months.
Opting for dry fruits and nuts as snacks is a healthy choice that can provide a range of health benefits. They are nutritious, satisfying, versatile, and convenient, making them a great option for anyone looking to improve their diet and overall health. Dry fruits and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, raisins, dates & figs are rich in potassium and other minerals that can help you stay hydrated. They contain natural sugars that can help replenish your energy levels during the hot summer months. They are a good source of essential nutrients such as protein, omega-3 fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, and are also rich in antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. They have a high-calorie density and are a great way to satisfy your hunger cravings and meet your energy needs without resorting to unhealthy snacks.
As the scorching summer sun beams down, it becomes essential to focus on a diet that keeps us cool, hydrated, and energised. In Indian households, a time-honoured practice of soaking and sprouting nuts and dry fruits has prevailed for generations. This tradition involves soaking almonds, walnuts, raisins, and other varieties overnight for consumption the next morning. Not only does this method enhance their taste and texture, but it also unlocks a myriad of health benefits.
This practice of sprouting nuts has regained popularity among health-conscious individuals and food enthusiasts alike. Sprouting nuts involves soaking raw nuts in water to initiate the germination process, which unlocks a plethora of nutritional benefits and enhances their digestibility. Soaking helps to soften the dry fruits, making them easier to digest. It also helps to release nutrients and makes them more bio-available. When nuts are sprouted, the germination process activates enzymes that break down complex compounds into simpler forms, making the nutrients more accessible to our bodies. Additionally, the process of soaking and sprouting nuts and dry fruits helps to reduce the levels of phytic acid present in these foods. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that binds to minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc, inhibiting their absorption in the body. By soaking nuts and dry fruits, the phytic acid content is significantly reduced, improving the bioavailability of these essential minerals. This reduction in phytic acid levels through soaking and sprouting further enhances the overall nutritional value of these foods and ensures that the body can better utilise the beneficial minerals they contain.
Soaking and Sprouting hence enhance the bio-availability of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in nuts, such as vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. It stimulates the production of enzymes within nuts, which aids in digestion. Enzymes help break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, making them easier for our bodies to absorb and utilise. This enzymatic activity also neutralises enzyme inhibitors present in raw nuts, enhancing their digestibility. By incorporating soaked and sprouted nuts and dry fruits into your summer diet, you not only enjoy their delicious flavours and numerous health benefits such as increased nutrient density, enhanced digestibility, increased antioxidant but also mitigate the potential negative effects of anti-nutrients like phytic acid.
Remember though, dry fruits and nuts are high in calories and can cause weight gain if consumed in excess. Therefore, limit your intake to a handful of dry fruits per day. Great ways to include soaked and sprouted nuts and dry fruits in your summer diet would include:
- Morning Delights: Start your day with a handful of soaked and sprouted almonds, walnuts, or raisins. They make a perfect accompaniment to your breakfast or a quick snack to kickstart your energy levels.
- Trail Mix Magic: Create a custom trail mix by combining soaked and sprouted nuts with dried fruits like apricots, cranberries, and figs. This mix is not only delicious but also provides a boost of nutrients and energy for your summer adventures.
- Cooling Smoothies: Blend soaked and sprouted nuts with refreshing fruits like watermelon or cucumber to create a cooling and nutritious smoothie. The combination of hydrating ingredients and sprouted nuts will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
- Salad Crunch: Sprinkle some soaked and sprouted nuts on top of your favourite summer salad for added texture, flavour, and nutritional value. They make an excellent alternative to croutons or other high-calorie toppings.
By soaking and sprouting nuts, you can unlock their nutritional potential, increase nutrient availability, and improve digestibility. Whether enjoyed as a snack, incorporated into recipes, or used as a topping, sprouted nuts offer a delightful way to elevate your culinary experiences while nourishing your body.
To summarise, embracing the age-old Indian tradition of soaking and sprouting nuts and dry fruits for summer consumption brings a host of benefits to your diet. From improved digestibility and increased nutrient availability to enhanced hydration and tantalising taste, soaking and sprouting truly unlock the potential of these natural wonders. Soaked and sprouted dry fruits and nuts are truly versatile and can be used in various ways to create refreshing and healthy dishes. They can be enjoyed as a light snack on their own or combined into a nutritious and energising trail mix. You can even blend soaked or sprouted nuts and dried fruits and make thandai, which is believed to provide relief from heat and dehydration. Some people believe that sprouted foods have a cooling effect on the body, which can help regulate body temperature in hot weather. However, scientific evidence specifically addressing the cooling properties of sprouted dry fruits and nuts is limited.
It is crucial to follow proper soaking and sprouting techniques to ensure food safety. As always, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalised advice regarding your specific dietary needs and any potential contraindications.
About the Author
Shalin is the Co-founder and the Chief Marketing Officer for ProV Foods. He aims to diminish the vacuum in the “healthy snacking” space in India through ProV. At ProV he and his team are focused on targeting a revenue of 500 crs run rate by this year and aim to achieve 20x growth by the year 2026. He has over 16+ years of experience in quantitative risk analysis, profitability reporting, trade analytics, opertional system deployment, business operations & financial model development. Previously he was the senior vice president for Aster Commodities DMCC- Edelweiss financial services and is an experienced COO, risk analyst, business strategist & planner. He completed his Bachelor of Management Studies in finance from Mumbai University and currently operates from the ProV headquarters in Mumbai.