Before I started teaching Nia I had a corporate job. I worked with a woman who loved oatmeal. If you have read any of my Oat series (Oat series? Really? How did that happen?) you will know that I do not like oatmeal. She, like many others, tried to educate me on the fact that “instant” oatmeal is not really oatmeal and she said the best is steel cut oats. She told me what brand she buys and she said that she soaks them overnight because that is what makes them so yummy. Since then I have heard many people say the yummiest way to eat oats is to soak them. So I have heard of soaking oats before, but I thought that was for the flavor. A friend of mine posted a comment on one of my oat posts and she mentioned pre-soaked oat cereal. So I went to the website she mentioned to check it out. That led me to discover some people believe another reason to soak oats is for better nutrition.
After reading her comment I was excited thinking I would have something else to post about. I quickly looked into soaking oats, guess what I found? If you think about it you will know . . . . . I found conflicting information! “No”, you say, right? I mean there is never another opinion. Geez. So I though maybe I could look into the health benefits and do a post and mention the two different trains of thoughts. Then I thought, no, my poor readers, what is it with me and oats? But then, I was talking to one of my Nia students and explaining to her about my oat series and I mentioned soaking oats. She said she in fact, had oats soaking right that minute. When I asked her why she said because that is what makes them yummy and you can eat them raw when you soak them. So, while yes, it seems to make the oats yummy, and yes, soaking them allows them to be eaten raw, some believe there is a nutritional benefit to soaking them.
While I somewhat felt there might be a need to do a post on soaked oats, I thought it odd that my little quest for breakfast had grown into a series of post. I wasn’t going to post about soaked oats, but then I realized people might want to know. So bear with me for two more oat posts (at least I think it will be just two more). There has to be at least two more because there is conflicting opinions.
One post I’ll call “pro-soaked oats” and one I’ll call “con-soaked oats”. This is the “pro-soaked oats” post.
The idea is that oats should be soaked to remove or neutralize the phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to some minerals and blocks their absorption. There is a popular book out there, Nourishing Traditions, that states it is necessary to soak grains. It states that eating bran that has not been properly soaked will help with regularity at first, but could possibly lead to irritable bowel syndrome along with possible mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The soaking allows for the break down of the phytic acid so that the minerals will not be bound and they will be allowed to be absorbed. The book says an improvement in grain nutrition is achieved in “as little as seven hours”.
Body Ecology states that grains need to be soaked for at least 8 hours, with 24 being even better. Other information I have found on the internet states at least 12 hours. So it seems there is a difference in opinion with how long oats should be soaked.
Most agree that oats need to be soaked in water and something with acidic properties, but here again opinions differ. Some say to use water and a dairy product such as milk or yogurt and some say that dairy is not good because while it might help with breaking down the phytic acid in the grain it will cause acid levels to rise in the body. Some also say that the calcium in the dairy DOES NOT help break down the phytic acid. That is in OATS only. Since I started this whole series because of oats and because getting into all the other grains would make this a huge series this post is focused on OATS. So some information suggests to use lemon or vinegar as the “acid”. A lot of comments from people who soak their oats state that they just use warm water.
The science behind the idea of soaking sounds simple enough; a seed or grain is designed not to be penetrated until it is ready to sprout. It is ready to sprout and release its nutrients when it has had enough time to be moist and warm in a slightly acidic environment. Eating grains that have not been soaked just drops them into your system when they are not ready making them more difficult to digest in addition to the risk of the pyhtic acid binding with nutrients and not allowing the body to absorb them. Makes sense. A grain’s own defense system keeps it safe and locked up until it is in the right conditions.
A common “recipe” I am seeing for soaking is:
Oats, water (enough to cover the oats), warmth, “acid”, time.
Now the only thing I have actually seen people agree on is the oats. Ha, funny, but true. Now that I think about it they might not all agree on what KIND of oats. The TEMPERATURE of the water is from just above body temperature to warm tap. The “warmth” as in a place to keep it — goes from the refrigerator (which they are not saying is warm but is just showing how different the “recipes” are) to a warm oven, the “acid” is from lemon to a dairy product, and the time, well, from 30 minutes to two days. It is crazy.
So it seems pretty straight forward. Grains designed to protect themselves until ready to germinate need the ideal conditions in which to do so and then they will happily release all kinds of healthy benefits. And the science is there to prove that phytic acid binds with minerals which would keep them from being absorbed in the body. Now all you have to do is be organized enough to remember to soak your oats anywhere from 30 minutes to 48 hours before eating them. Or you can tune in to my next post and see what some people have to say about why there is no need to soak the oats all the way to you shouldn’t soak your oats.
Do you soak your oats? Do you do it because you think it increases their nutrition?