Many are familiar with the need to soak seeds, nuts and beans overnight in order to deactivate and neutralize the so-called anti-nutrients in the seed such as phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors. But what many fail to realize, is that soaking a seed is vastly different from sprouting one. It amazes me that most people are still eating their flax and chia seeds raw (whether intact or milled) or merely soaking them for a short time before consuming them. What is often misunderstood is the seed’s powerful built-in inhibition mechanism and Mother Nature’s brilliant plan for survival.
The internal architecture of a seed is fascinating both physically and metaphorically. Seeds contain an embryo that holds all of the life force potential of the seed. The nutrients are locked down within the seed until the environmental conditions are in place to initiate the complex metabolic processes needed in order to facilitate new growth. The embryonic cells are catalyzed and the seed releases its stored nutrients to feed the emergence of new life in the form of a radicle, which turns into a living plant.
A raw seed requires the correct internal and external conditions in order to ensure germination. Light, oxygen, temperature, moisture and time are the five crucial elements that will allow germination to unfold. The seed also needs to be viable, meaning that the embryo is still alive. Seeds that have been damaged, irradiated or exposed to heat may not germinate.
Many believe soaking a seed in water will be sufficient. While it may begin the process of marginally reducing phytic acid (the compound that blocks the absorption of zinc, calcium and magnesium), the reality is very little has occurred in the shift in biochemistry of the seed unless germination has begun. In germinating Chia and flax seeds for example there can be as much as a 50% reduction in phytic acid, which will improve the absorption of key minerals. In addition to this, vital enzymes and vitamins increase dramatically, antioxidants double and soluble fibre and health promoting lignans in flax increase.
In order to fully germinate the seed, particularly mucilaginous seeds that gum up, get slimy and gelatinous such as flax and chia seeds, you will have to continuously mist them, agitate them and ensure the correct temperature, light and moisture are maintained in very precise and measured ways. If not, you run the risk of creating moldy seeds.
Once the seed coats actually swell and break open and the tiny white tails known as radicles (the embryonic roots) emerge you have mined gold so to speak! Now you are eating life force rich “plants” that have all of their nutrients available in the most assimilable form. When the tail extends beyond a certain point and roots and leaves begin to grow the nutrient storage that had previously been stored is now utilized and photosynthesis takes over for continued growth. The reason sprouted foods are so high in life force is the biogenic energy of the embryo reaches its peak when the radicle emerges.
This is all food for thought as you perch over your kitchen counter top to soak yet another couple of tablespoons of raw chia. I will add one caveat, which is that since the soluble fibre of chia and flax seeds dramatically increases through germination, the one benefit of raw seeds is a higher amount of insoluble fibre, which is beneficial for those needing more roughage material to sweep the colon clean. But compared to the radical shift in nutrition that occurs when the anti-nutrients of the seed are reduced, I myself consume sprouted chia and flax the majority of the time.
Certified Organic Traditions Sprouted Chia/Flaxseed Powder
Certified Organic Traditions Sprouted Chia/Flaxseed Powder is readily available in a germinated, cold milled form. The sprouted chia and flax powders are particularly convenient because they can be thrown into any recipe with no preparation whatsoever and provide all of the incredible nutrition that sprouting promises. There is simply no greater “fast food” on the planet.