In traditional diets of our ancestors, soaking was key to preparing food. Dal, rice, beans, nuts, seeds and other whole grains contain phytic acid. Soaking for a few hours before you cook helps to break down the phytic acid which makes it easy for the body to absorb all the nutrients and also digest the food better. Study shows that our grains contain arsenic, a compound found in earth‘s crust. By soaking the grain prior to cooking, the arsenic level can come down by 25-30%. Soaking grains also release compounds called lower order inositols – specifically myo- and d-chiro-inositol. And these compounds help support blood sugar regulation, metabolic and hormonal health (PCOS).
Soaking of rice and dal can be done up till 4 hours. For oats and most nuts, soaking overnight is good.
Traditionally In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas, or flour is fermented to make Bhatura; Africans soak corn overnight before adding it to soups and ferment corn for days to prepare a traditional dish; Welsh prepared similar dish by soaking oats overnight. Latin Americans ferment rice for long before cooking; Ethiopians make their distinctive bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; Mexican corn cakes are fermented for two weeks in banana leaves; Americans and Europeans used fermented starter to Bake bread, cookies and cake. The Chinese were the first people to carry moong dal (mung bean) and sprout for consumption as they sailed on voyages overseas.