Sprouted nuts are raw nuts that have been soaked in water to germinate, or begin to sprout.
Because sprouted grains are popular, you may be wondering whether sprouted nuts are also good for your health.
This article reviews the benefits of eating sprouted nuts and how to incorporate them into your diet.
Sprouted nuts are raw nuts that have been soaked in water until they begin to germinate, which is the first stage of plant growth.
Most “sprouted” nuts have gone through only the first stage of the sprouting process, soaking in water for 3–12 hours.
Sprouting requires a moist and humid environment, which makes the nuts susceptible to bacterial growth. Furthermore, sprouted nuts are not roasted, which puts them at an even higher risk of bacterial contamination.
Nuts with outer shells or hulls that have to be removed before eating, such as walnuts and pecans, can’t be fully sprouted. This means they won’t develop the little tail indicating new plant life that other nuts will develop during sprouting.
Because it’s hard to create a sterile environment at home, it’s generally not recommended to sprout nuts yourself at home.
Most commercial nuts eaten worldwide are not sprouted, especially those that are most accessible to consumers. Instead, commercial nuts are often roasted, flavored, or seasoned, and they may or may not be sold with their shells intact.
Many commercial nuts have also been irradiated, which means they have been heat-treated to kill any bacteria that could pose a potential risk to consumers.
Sprouted nuts are untreated raw nuts that have been soaked overnight, if not fully sprouted. Most commercial nuts you eat are not sprouted and have likely been roasted or seasoned in some way.
Research indicates that sprouting certain grains and legumes can boost their antioxidants, amino acids, and B vitamins.
While some sources claim that soaking and sprouting nuts also increases their nutrient content and reduces phytates, there’s no available scientific evidence to support nutritional improvements after sprouting nuts.
A 28-gram (1/4-cup) serving of sprouted walnuts has the following nutritional profile (
- Calories: 180
- Total fat: 16 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Total carbs: 4 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
- Calcium: 2% of the DV
- Iron: 4% of the DV
One study compared the mineral and phytate concentrations of whole and chopped almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and walnuts. The nuts were divided into 4 groups: raw, soaked in a salt solution for 4 or 12 hours, or soaked in water for 12 hours (
The results showed that soaking the nuts actually reduced overall mineral content and did not significantly change their phytate concentration.
Research on grains and legumes indicates that sprouting improves nutritional quality. However, research on sprouted versus raw nuts shows no significant difference in nutrient or phytate content.
A variety of sprouted nuts can be found online or at specialty grocery or health food stores. If the store sells sprouted legumes or grains, you may be more likely to find sprouted nuts there too.
Sprouted nuts are generally sold in a bag or plastic container, similarly to other nuts. They will be labeled “sprouted” or might say they’re “activated,” which means they have undergone the initial process of sprouting.
Some of the most popular types of sprouted nuts are:
- sprouted walnuts
- sprouted pecans
- sprouted pistachios
- sprouted almonds
- sprouted cashews
- sprouted Brazil nuts
- sprouted macadamia nuts
- sprouted hazelnuts
Keep in mind that “sprouted” walnuts, pecans, and other nuts with outer shells will have gone through only the soaking step of the sprouting process and can’t technically be fully sprouted.
Sprouted nuts can be found online or at some grocery or health food stores. They’re generally sold in a bag or plastic container and labeled as “sprouted” or “activated.”
Sprouted nuts have a shorter shelf life than raw nuts, and homemade varieties should be eaten within a few days.
Most sources claim that store-bought sprouted nuts will last 2–3 months in your pantry or can be kept in your fridge or freezer to extend shelf life. It’s always best to review the product packaging for storage recommendations and expiration dates.
Nuts with higher oil content, such as almonds and walnuts, should be stored in cooler places to prevent them from going rancid.
You can eat sprouted nuts on their own; add them to smoothies; use them to make granola bars, plant milk, or nut butter; dehydrate them to make trail mix; or grind them into a sprouted nut flour or meal for recipes.
Most of the nuts you find in their raw or roasted form can also be sprouted or at least can go through the soaking step of sprouting. You may be able to find these nuts online or in certain stores.
Instead of buying sprouted nuts from the store or online, you can make them.
Additionally, it’s important to find nuts labeled “raw” that have not been treated to remove bacteria, toxins, or mold. If they have been treated, they’re unlikely to sprout.
Common methods of treating nuts include roasting, blanching, treatment with methyl bromide, pasteurization, and irradiation (12).
Preparing sprouted nuts at home requires a soaking step and a sprouting step. Keep in mind that most nuts can’t be fully sprouted and will stop after the soaking step.
However, you can make fully sprouted almonds at home using the following steps:
- Place raw almonds in a bowl covered with a few inches of water. Cover with a paper or cloth towel and let them soak for 8–12 hours.
- Drain, rinse, and replace the water a few times during this period — once every 3 hours.
- Using a colander, drain the water from the soaked almonds and transfer them to a shallow bowl with a breathable lid to allow for air exposure.
- Add 1–2 tablespoons of water to help keep them moist.
- Allow the almonds to sprout for 3 days.
- Transfer them to a breathable container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for 7 days. Alternatively, you can store them in the freezer or dehydrate them to make crispy sprouted almonds.
That said, if you can’t create a sterile working environment at home, it’s best not to make sprouted nuts yourself due to the risk of foodborne illness.
You can make fully sprouted almonds at home if you create a sterile environment, but most nuts will not fully sprout and therefore will be only soaked.
Sprouted nuts are raw nuts that have been soaked and allowed to germinate. However, most “sprouted” nuts sold in stores have undergone only the soaking phase, as they can’t be fully sprouted.
While the nutrient content of certain grains and legumes may be improved by sprouting, there’s no evidence that sprouting nuts significantly changes their nutritional composition.
You can find certain types of sprouted nuts online or in stores or make them at home. You can eat them as they are, add them to smoothies, or dehydrate and grind them into flour.