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Why You Need to Soak Your Grains, Beans, Nuts and Seeds


If you’re ready to switch to a whole foods, plant-based diet, congratulations!! I’m absolutely thrilled to guide you! Non-gluten grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are a big part of the Yogitrition Plan–I want you to eat them regularly, and I want you to reap the full benefits. But before you rip open your next bag of raw nuts, or throw those dry beans into a pot to boil, there are some very important things you should know. While these types of foods can be truly divine when prepared with proper care, they can become a serious health hazard when taken for granted.

Apparently, our ancestors understood this very well, because grains, beans, nuts, and seeds in their natural form were never consumed without being soaked or fermented first. It was a time-honored tradition of food preparation that kept agrarian cultures thriving. It wasn’t until food mechanization took the reigns and the processing of food became an industry, that soaking and fermenting became a dying tradition.


Although mechanization and convenience have changed the way humans eat, Mother Nature still hasn’t changed much with the not-so-humble grain, bean, nut or seed. They still need to be soaked or fermented before they are consumed.

It is no coincidence that in the modern world, where these foods are largely consumed in the form of bread, crackers, cereal, nut butter, etc., that millions are suffering from digestive issues, autoimmune disorders, and a host of other nutritionally related diseases.

It’s not enough to take processed foods off your plate. Yes, this is a big step, but there is still more to go!! If you’re serious about taking your whole foods, plant-based eating to the next level, your days of simply tossing dry beans and grains into a pot and boiling them, or eating raw nuts and seeds out of a bag are over. πŸ˜‰


Those Pesky Anti-Nutrients

Grains, beans, nuts, and seeds appear to be innocent foods, but they aren’t. In fact, they’re pretty bad-ass in the wild. Mother Nature equipped these foods with an arsenal of weapons known as anti-nutrients, that are locked in the outer bran or seed coat. These toxic anti-nutrients protect them from insects and predators, and invasion by bacteria, viruses or fungi. The lioness has her sharp fangs and claws, the humble plant seed has its anti-nutrients!!

Much of these anti-nutrients are naturally eliminated from the outer coating when there is enough moisture, warmth and acidity to sustain the plant seed once it enters the ground to germinate. This is why soaking has been an important process in food preparation for thousands of years–it mimics the natural germination process that takes place in nature. Germination neutralizes anti-nutrients and unlocks precious enzymes and nutrients that render these foods edible. But before we go into the benefits of soaking, let’s take a look at the different types of anti-nutrients.


Phytic Acid and Mineral Deficiencies

The most known antinutrient found in grains, beans, nuts, and seeds is phytic acid (or phytate), a phosphorous-bound organic acid that protects the plant seed from premature germination. When you eat foods with these phytic acids still intact, they bind with important minerals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron and copper and prevent absorption. Phytic acid also has the potential to block protein absorption. This explains the recent success of adaptogens in the fitness and dieting world. Just keep in mind that knowledge is a powerful tool combined with nutrition, do your own research.

Over time, regularly consuming foods (processed or whole) that contain phytic acid can lead to serious mineral deficiencies and cause a wide array of health problems including digestive irritability, impaired immune function, allergies, skin irritations, decaying teeth, bone loss, anemia, hormone disruption, and poor physiological development in infants and children. These health issues are especially prevalent in babies and young children who are fed diets high in phytate foods such as cereal, crackers, bread, nut butter, soy formula, etc. I am thoroughly convinced this is why so many youngsters have digestive issues, allergies, and skin irritations. πŸ™

Common processed foods fed to infants and young children



Enzyme Inhibitors

Plant seeds, especially nuts, and seeds, also contain enzyme inhibitors that ward off predators. These inhibitors block enzyme function, most notably the uptake of trypsin, an enzyme responsible for digesting protein. Animal research has shown that overly consuming foods containing trypsin inhibitors can lead to hypersecretion of pancreatic enzymes, an enlarged pancreas, and benign tumors. The increased requirement for pancreatic enzymes also depletes the body of valuable resources for other physiological functions as well, and sets up the conditions for chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, impaired digestion, immune suppression, increased allergies, severe intestinal issues and declined mental function. Any peanut butter lovers cringing right now?



Although lectins can be found in almost all foods, they are highly concentrated in grains (especially wheat), beans (especially soy), and nuts. They act as very powerful insecticides that ward off predators. When they are consumed in large quantities, such as a diet high in conventional wheat and soy products, lectins are a natural disaster for the small intestine. They are carb-binding proteins that stick to the lining of the small intestine and damage the sensitive villi responsible for transporting nutrients into the bloodstream.

Eventually, lectins damage the villi so badly that leaky gut syndrome occurs. “Leaky gut” means that the very delicate lining of the small intestine is so damaged that particles of undigested food, proteins, toxins and other pathogens are able “leak” into the bloodstream and bind to tissues and organs throughout the body. As a reaction, the body increases inflammation to protect the affected tissue. This is why lectins are also linked with autoimmune disorders like IBS, Chron’s, colitis, thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and so on.

Side Note About Wheat & Soy: I am an advocate for removing conventional wheat and unfermented soy as much as possible from ones’ diet. Although my reasons are many, and I could write for days about this subject, I will keep it short in regard to lectins. Both wheat and soy are very high in lectins, and soaking and fermenting do not remove them. This is one of the main reasons why I advocate a predominantly wholefood’s diet with as little processed food as possible. These foods come largely in boxes in the form of bread, pasta, crackers, sweets, cereal, etc. Watch carefully for “whole food” items that contain wheat and/or soy. Health food stores are literally full of them. Also, I advise staying entirely away from foods like soy milk, tofu, and all those faux foods like soy cheese, etc. These foods can be a literal hazard for both your immune system, hormones, metabolism and digestive system.

Extra Side Note: While this may sound contradicting, I personally consume sprouted bread which contains wheat and fermented soy (tempeh and miso). My body seems to digest both of these foods very well. This may not be the case for everyone, so it’s important to listen to your body. Remember that you cannot remove lectins entirely from your diet, so pick and choose wisely. 


Beans…Why They Are So Hard to Digest

Beans are a beloved staple for many vegans and vegetarians for their frugality and protein content. They are delicious and filling, but they also cause some undesirable digestive issues. The obvious of these is gas, bloating, cramping and indigestion.

Besides the lectins and phytic acid contained in most legumes, the harder beans such as kidney beans, navy beans, and black beans contain oligosaccharides. Humans do not produce the enzyme necessary to break down these complex sugars. When consumed, the oligosaccharides ferment in the lower intestine producing carbon dioxide and methane gasses. They are literal protein fart generators!!

Yes, farting is embarrassing, but your self-esteem isn’t the only thing taking a beating. The nasty bacteria residing in your intestines love fermentation! Constant fermentation in your intestines leads to inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining.


Soaking and Fermenting Increases Nutritional Content

The common thread to all of these anti-nutrients is that they cause severe distress to the digestive system, which leads to a host of health issues that can be quite difficult to turn around. To add a little more fuel to the fire, when you consume grains, beans, nuts, and seeds that are not soaked or fermented, you also miss out on the fabulous nutrients locked inside. Now that just doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Mother Nature wants to ensure that these foods are nutritionally void so predators won’t eat them, so she keeps their goodness locked away deep inside. Vital proteins, vitamins (especially vitamin B), enzymes and minerals are unlocked through the soaking process, making them ten times more nutritious than in their raw form. So not only do you deactivate harmful nutrients, you activate all the goodness that Mother Nature wants you to have.


Here is a long list of benefits when you soak your grains, beans, nuts and seeds:

  • Remove or reduce phytic acid
  • Neutralize enzyme inhibitors
  • Eliminate or reduce lectins, gluten, tannins, goitrogens, and other antinutrients that are hard for the body to break down
  • Encourage the production of beneficial enzymes
  • Increase nutrient content, especially vitamin B
  • Break down hard-to-digest proteins in grain, making them easy-to-digest
  • Increase bioavailability of proteins
  • Prevent mineral deficiencies and bone loss
  • Reduce hypersecretion of pancreatic enzymes
  • Maximize digestion which reduces the need for the body to centralize its reserves to digest food



How to Make Soaking a Regular Part of Your Food Preparation

Now that I’ve thoroughly convinced you to soak your grains, beans, nuts and seeds before you cook or eat them, it’s time to learn how! Don’t worry, it doesn’t require elaborate techniques or ancient equipment. All that is necessary is a little planning. Head on over to Soaking Grains, Beans, Nuts & Seeds 101 to learn how.

In the meantime, I have provided you a list of resources that sell sprouted products, because I don’t want to leave you empty-handed. I especially love the pre-soaked beans and the nut butter!!


Pre-Soaked Beans in BPA-Free Cans. Whoo hoo!!:

Purchase Eden Organic Beans on Amazon


Sprouted Flour:

Arrowhead Mills Sprouted Wheat Flour

Arrowhead Mills Pancake Mix

Organic Sprouted Gluten-Free Baking Blend

Organic Sprouted Buckwheat Flour – Gluten-Free

Organic Sprouted Garbanzo Bean Flour – Gluten-Free

Organic Sprouted Oat Flour

Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Flour – Gluten-Free

Organic Sprouted Corn Flour – Gluten-Free

Organic Sprouted Lentil Flour


Sprouted Grains and Beans:

Sprouted Rice & Quinoa Blend

Sprouted Rice Blend

Sprouted Brown Rice

Sprouted Chickpeas

Sprouted Black Beans

Sprouted Mung Beans


Sprouted Bread, Tortillas & Cereal:

Food for Life Ezekiel Bread

Food for Life Sprouted Grain

More Sprouted Bread

Sprouted Hamburger Buns

Sprouted Grain Tortillas

Sprouted Corn Tortillas

Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal

Sprouted Cinnamon Raisin Cereal


Sprouted Chips & Crackers

Whole Grain Tortilla Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

Blue Corn Tortilla Chips


Nuts and Nut Butters:

Sprouted Almond Butter

Sprouted Pumpkin Seed Butter

Sprouted Sunflower Seed Butter

Sprouted Cashew Nut Butter

Sprouted Walnuts

Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds

Sprouted Pecans

Sprouted Nut Mix


I hope I have been able to provide you with some invaluable information to help you with your whole food, plant-based eating. If you have any experiences, thoughts or questions, I’d love to hear from you, so please share in the comments section below. And as always, if you enjoyed this post and would like more information like this, please join me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Here’s to happy soaking!



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  1. THANK YOU for this info. I am on a journey to eat better and feed my babies better. This is so new to me and I love learning. Thanks for providing a list of resources while I get set up to do it homemade!

  2. Hi Kim!

    So does soaking black beans reduce the lectins?

    We do enjoy tofu (love our tofu scramble) — can you recommend an alternative for a scramble?

    We also love tempeh — any ideas for a sub for that?

    We’ve gone wheat/gluten free, and would like to eat as healthy as we can, so I know reducing/eliminating soy is the next step, but that one is a little harder, so any tips would be appreciated!!!

    • Hi Deb. Soaking doesn’t completely eliminate lectins, however cooking the soaked beans does help to reduce them quite a bit though. Unfortunately, I know of no substitutes for tofu.:( Congrats on going wheat/gluten-free. Just keep working on the finding different types of foods to eat. You’re not really hooked on the soy, it seems rather you’re hooked on the texture of tofu. It takes a while to get used to different types of textures.

      • Thanks Kim! You’re right about the tofu — it is a texture thing, as is tempeh, although with the tempeh it’s also the protein boost. I’ve been adding Raw Protein powder to almond milk (I really like my green smoothie better without it), and that gives me a little protein “leg-up”. I will continue the quest to try new recipes and techniques that incorporate non-soy, GF whole foods!! Thanks again for your help!!!

        • Hey Deb, a little tempeh from time to time isn’t that bad. It’s fermented soy, so it’s easier to digest. And you are certainly welcome! I’m glad to help anytime I can. πŸ™‚

      • Hi Kim,
        My Dad told me about some of his vegan research and said cooking foods over certain temps (somewhere around 105 or so) reduces the nutrients as it denatures enzymes. I sprout mung beans and eat them every day. Absolutely Love them. My husband likes to go out for food sometimes and I found a cool looking vegan place in town that offers Falafel (soaked and ground chickpeas / chickpeas with fava beans)… Its usually prepared by deep frying. Wondering if I can ask them to leave it raw for me.

        • Ruth, unless the chickpeas are sprouted, I would assume eating them raw would be tough on your digestion. Not sure how they would make raw falafel, either, unless I misunderstood the question.

  3. Hey Kim, thank you so much for providing this detailed and immensely helpful information regarding soaking beens. I myself have recently made an attempt to eliminate most grains from my diet, trying to eat mostly sprouted, and began soaking my beans. I have also stopped buying canned beans, like Eden Organic, because I assumed they did not pre-soak their beans. However I was shocked when I saw the link you provided claiming that they do. I followed your link and could not find any specific information regarding this process. I was wondering if you could perhaps demonstrate where exactly you read that information. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.


    • Hey Devon! Any one of the links to their bean products will tell you they’re soaked over night.




  5. Hello Kim do you have a list for the soaking time of grain beans nuts & seeds ?

  6. Very informative and great resources to keep healthy and in control of what you choose to eat to stay in shape.

  7. Why is it not recommended to use metal bowls for soaking

    • Sue, I’m leery of using any type of metal cookware with food preparation. Evidence is starting to suggest that stainless steel leaches nickel and chromium. So I always recommend glass to be on the safe side.

  8. Thank you so much for your perseverance in getting this information out to public! I remember my Mom always soaked her beans etc. over night before she cooked them…. Thank you again!!!

  9. Four years ago, I started having night and day sweats, due to the beginning of menopause, and since no over the counter medications helped, I started eating and drinking soy products, which helped, with time, eliminate all symptoms. I enjoyed eating this way so much, that I started consuming more beans, lentils, chia seeds and nuts. All the foods I eat are organic and non GMO. No more animal protein, nor fish.

    Here’s the kicker, this week, even though I thought my diet was excellent, I found out that I have a severe case of leaky gut. After doing tons of research on this subject, and finding out what foods to avoid, I came upon your site, and I learned more than I ever could imagine on why, eating the way I have, for the last four years, is probably, and I’m using this word lightly, why I am now dealing with this diagnosis.

    I would like to thank you for this well written and easy to read article. You have opened my eyes to my many mistakes.

    Forever thankful,

    Monique Robinson

    • Hey Monique! I’m so sorry you have to be dealing with the symptoms of leaky gut! However, I’m happy you found my site and that the information is helpful. Good luck as you move forward into healing. No SOY from here on out!!!

      • Good afternoon!!

        I haven’t eaten or drank any soy since your reply to my previous question.
        Now im courious to find out if I am able to eat tempeh and miso.
        I’ve noticed that you use tempeh in some of your recipes, but haven’t
        noticed any miso.

        Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question.
        Monique Robinson

        • Hey Monique! Glad to hear you went of soy. Yes, I do eat Miso as well. Although, I do recommend to eat both Miso and Tempeh sparingly. πŸ™‚

  10. Awesome blog! I have heard that with potatoes you also need to soak to reduce starch. True? Would you cut them up in chunks and then soak overnight and dump the water? Thanks. Sweet potatoes, too?

    • Thank you Deyanira! I’ve heard that some cultures do soak potatoes, but I haven’t read anything extensively about it. I’ll have to look into more later. Thanks for informing me. πŸ™‚

  11. Please put me on your email list. Tks. Wonderful info – just what I needed to know!

    • Hey Lorena, I put your email on the mailing list. Check your email for verification. Thank you!! πŸ™‚

  12. I want on the email list! I just found this site while googling sea salt colon cleanse and was so impressed with the articles I found here!

    • Sure! I’ve added you to the mailing list!

      • I would love to be on the mailing list too! Thank you so much for all of the great information. You really seem to know what you’re talking about:)

  13. Hi Kim,
    Thank you so much for your blog, it’s great! πŸ™‚
    I have a question: does phytic acid remain in the soaking water?

    • Magdalena, I’ve never come to a definitive conclusion as to what’s left in the soak water. Generally, I discard the soak water from grains and beans.

  14. The quinoa manufacturers claim to remove all saponins from the seed. My understanding is that saponins are in the outer layer of the seed called the seed coat.
    When i try to soak quinoa (pre washed version) in water I still can see little of the white foam. Is that saponins?
    I am trying to prove that no matter what you do to quinoa you will always end up eating some saponins? Do you think this is a case? Is there any scientific proof for that?

    • I’m finding that sprouted Quinoa sometimes tastes more bitter that plain Quinoa. I suspect you’ll never be able to fully rid of the saponins. I have no scientific proof, but I wouldn’t worry too much. Just rinse the Quinoa as well as you can!


    • Interesting information to explore.

      • From what I listened to and read, there was no mention of the germination process and releasing the beneficial nutrients, which soaking provides. Phytates may do everything mentioned in these studies, however, food must be looked at in its whole form. Not soaking beans, grains, etc. keeps the nutrients locked away and largely undigested when consumed.

  16. Kim,

    Please add me to your list … I am soaking right how in spite of the gnawing in my stomach to consume something … quinoa to start with … your chart will see me through the rest of the grains etc. I am permitted … histamine intolerance victim here … 12 weeks into eating according to the low, medium etc. food lists …

    Just figured out how to put smother the hives that like to invade after midnight … using Witch Hazel all over me before I go sleep … they grumble about it and I can sense they’re frustration, but the astringent quality of the Witch Hazel keeps them down … and I can sleep … jackpot!!! Itching (ha ha ha) to let others know this little trick to combat the little monsters !!!

    • Will do! Have you heard of the Low Histamine Chef?

  17. Does soaking grains eliminate or decrease lectins?

    • As I stated in the post, soaking greatly reduced lectins, which includes grains.

  18. Do you know whether soaking will reduce the nickel content of these foods? I am allergic to nickel and recently went on a nickel free diet which excludes these foods.

    • Martha, I’m not really sure if soaking would decrease nickel content or not. I haven’t read any research as of yet.

  19. Hi Kim,

    Do you know if chia seeds should be pre-soaked. I have tried, but they just swell up right away and absorb all the water they are soaking in.

    • From my understanding, chia seeds are more readily digested when soaked. Much like flax, its hydrophilic properties soak up water, making a slimy goo-like texture. Apparently, this is where all the goodness resides. πŸ™‚

      • Soaked Chia is not slimy and gooey. It’s more like a gel or jelly, like bits of aloe in some bottled aloe drinks. Think micro-bubble-tea. I love chia water. Start with 1 level tablespoon in 500ml water. Shake & swirl for a few to 5 minutes until they start to space themselves out. Soak overnight in the fridge then shake & swirl again when drinking.

  20. Kim,

    A good number of the eat meat nutrition “experts” are touting the notion that sprouted wheat flour actually has more lectins than whole grain flour. So while you don’t recommend eating any wheat, you do list sprouted wheat flour implying that it is a better choice. Is that still true?
    Thanks, Don

    • I’m a little confused as to what you mean by wheat flour having more lectins than whole grain flour. What kind of grains were in this whole grain flour? As far as not eating wheat, I went ahead and updated the post for more clarity. I generally recommend avoiding wheat as much as possible, however, from time to time I do eat sprouted bread that contains wheat and occasionally eat sprouted wheat. Very rare, however. My body seems to handle wheat just fine, but this isn’t the case for everyone, so I suggest to choose wisely. I also make it a point to soak all my grains as to limit my exposure to lectins. Hope this helps clarify.

  21. Kim, states that “The hard lectin in legumes is impervious to soaking, sprouting and cooking”. There is so much conflicting advice on the internet that it is very difficult to know what is real. What evidence do you have to corroborate your statements?

    • Chuck, I also mention that cooking doesn’t entirely remove lectins from food, especially beans and that it’s difficult to avoid lectins entirely from any type of diet. This is why I recommend soaking to remove all kinds of antinutrients which lessens digestive burdens overall, and picking and choosing the kinds of food that your body digests well. There is a lot of information out there today and yes, a lot of it does seem conflicting. My best advice is not to get too swept up in trying to do everything “right”. Eat based on how your body feels. All of us are still learning about nutrition, and we’ll never stop learning. Take advice lightly, make your best choices, relax and enjoy your food.

  22. Thanks for the information

    • You’re welcome, Maryann!

  23. Thank you so much for this very informative article.. will help me drastically with adapting better to the vegan/plant lifestyle!

  24. Hello Kim,
    I stumbled across your blog during my research on indesirable effects associated with the consumption of grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
    I found it very interesting the process of soaking your seeds to neutralize harmful antinutrients. Though I’ve always soaked my seeds before cooking to eliminate potential remaining pesticides, I wasn’t educated on other health dangers caused by phytate and lectins.
    I’m a great consumer of seeds( peanuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, corn,and beans). In my culture, we don’t eat any of these raw; either we cook to make puddings(with corn, pumpkin seeds) or we roast(peanuts, almonds, cashews). Your article is very informative and well elaborated in the sense that it explains the necessity of not eating these seeds raw.
    Very insightful!!!

    • Thank you Candice! I’m glad you found this information helpful.

  25. Great article! This is such important information that people are not talking about. I just bought a pressure cooker to neutralize the lectins in beans. Do I need to soak them before I cook them in the pressure cooker? I read that soaking increases lectins. Thank you!


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