Soaking certain foods in water before consumption is a common practice that has been followed for generations. We all have noticed how certain foods cook faster after soaking, and how some foods turn softer when dipped in water for a few hours. Soaking some (not all) foods in water before consumption can benefit us in a number of ways. The process of soaking allows for the removal of naturally occurring compounds that may make the food difficult to digest or interfere with nutrient absorption.
Soaking techniques vary depending on the food but generally involve covering the food in water and leaving it to soak for several hours or overnight. Soaking is a simple and effective technique that can lead to improved health and a more enjoyable eating experience. And for that, it’s important to know which foods are better soaked before cooking and eating.
Here’re 7 Foods That Should Be Soaked In Water:
Nutritionist Nmami Agarwal, in one of her Instagram posts, explains, “Raw nuts contain high levels of phytic acid, which acts as the outer layer of the nuts to protect them from external factors. When we consume nuts directly, it causes irritation in the stomach and prevents nutrient absorption.” Nuts are densely populated with nutrients, which are more readily available if soaked in water to get rid of harmful and nutrient inhibitors present in the food. Soaking nuts like almonds and walnuts also makes them softer and easier to eat.
We all soak rajma, chane and other hard legumes in water, before cooking them. Ever wondered why? Legumes also contain huge amounts of phytic acid and lectins. Soaking them in water before cooking or consuming reduces the levels of these compounds and breaks down complex starch and proteins, making them easier to cook and digest. The technique also brings down cooking time, giving us softer legumes.
Soaking grains like rice and quinoa in water before cooking or consuming can make their nutrients more bioavailable. Soaking grains can also reduce cooking time and make them easier to digest. Rice is often soaked in water for around half an hour before boiling. This helps pull out starch from the rice, remove impurities and make the rice fluffier as the grains swell up.
5. Some Vegetables
Soaking vegetables is not as common as other food groups, but some tough or fibrous vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, onion and kale, can benefit from a quick soak in water. Soaking can make the vegetables more tender and removes all dirt.
6. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits, such as apricots, dates, figs, and raisins, are rich in fibre and antioxidants. But they are also rich in sulfites, which can lead to allergic reactions in some people. Soaking dried fruits in water can reduce the amount of sulfites and make these foods safer for consumption.
Overnight-soaked oats are a popular breakfast meal. But there is a play of science behind the process of soaking them. It softens the oats and makes them easier to digest without the need of cooking them.
In addition to improving digestion and nutrient absorption, soaking can also enhance the flavour and texture of the foods. It might sound like a tedious task, but trust us, it’s worth it!