Should You Soak Your Almonds? — Chromatography Investigates
Jun 13 2018 Read 1014 Times
Making sure that you eat enough vitamins and minerals is essential for a healthy, balanced diet. It is estimated that mineral deficiency is a health concern for a third of the world’s population, especially in developing countries — with low mineral consumption linked to an impaired immune system and increased morbidity.
Low availability of iron and zinc in unprocessed cereals and legumes — particularly in plant-based diets — contributes to the increased chance of having sub-optimal dietary mineral content. Traditionally, one method to increase mineral availability is by soaking and sprouting seeds before eating. A recent paper published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture — Determination of D-myo-inositol phosphates in “activated” raw almonds using anion exchange chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry LC-MS/MS — used chromatography to investigate the effect of soaking almonds on the bioavailability of nutrients. So, should you soak your almonds?
Making nutrients available
The primary source of phosphate storage in seeds is D-myo-inositol hexaphosphate or InsP6 — also known as phytic acid thankfully. It is present in most plants and is considered an anti-nutrient. This is because phytate — the name given to phytic acid when it is bound to a mineral in the seed — prevents the mineral being absorbed when it is in our digestive tract. Phytates can also reduce the amount of proteins and fats we absorb too.
Phytates are essential for plants though. They are the energy source used when a seed sprout. Then, phytate enzymes (simply biological catalysts) break down the stored phytates. Soaking seeds is used in many cultures to improve the flavour of seeds that are used in dishes. In India and Pakistan, almonds are often soaked overnight and served as part of a meal to help develop cognitive development in children.
Chromatography measures the activated almonds
Activated almonds are simply almonds soaked in water and dried. It is thought that this increases the bioavailability of the nutrients by degrading phytates. In the paper referenced above, a team from the university of California used anion exchange chromatography alongside mass spectrometry to analyse the phytic acid content of raw and activated almonds. Using chromatography to analyse plant nutrients is discussed in the article, A Systematic Approach to Developing Terpene Extraction Conditions Utilising Supercritical Carbon Dioxide.
The team soaked raw almonds in water for various times up to 24 hours and then dried them to a fixed moisture content. After grinding, extracts from the almond powder were analysed using anion exchange chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The team found that after 24 hours of soaking, the reduction in phytic acid was about 4.7% relative to raw almonds. They suggest that soaking does not increase the nutritional value of almonds — but it might improve their flavour.
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