Raw nuts and seeds (especially almonds) have an enzyme inhibitor in their brown skins to protect them until the conditions of nature (ie. sunlight and water) are available to germinate them. Since those conditions are not normally met prior to eating them, the enzyme inhibitors prevent the almonds from releasing all of their nutrients to our bodies as well as making them harder for us to digest. Soaking provides the moisture necessary to release the inhibitors therefore making the nuts and seeds easier to digest and allowing our bodies to absorb more of the vital nutrients we need.
Once I tried them this way I would never go back.. they are so much yummier. Have you ever soaked your nuts before eating them?
I usually buy pre-prepared nuts, so don't need to soak them. When I do buy nuts still inside their shells, I never soak them. This is the first time I have actually heard about doing it. Usually I roast my nuts, if I do anything to them.
On the flip side of this, nuts are very calorific, but the fact that you do not fully digest them means that when eaten whole, a lot of the fat does not get absorbed, which means that you don't gain all that expected extra weight. If you soak them, presumably the fat will get absorbed as well.
It takes like seconds.. and if you a whole bunch in advance and keep them in fridge, it's really not time consuming. And the health benefits far outweigh the small inconvenience. Eating them un-soaked means you are missing most of the nutritional value.
I soak nuts overnight, wash them well (almonds can be filthy) and then dehydrate them. I do about a kilo and store them in a large coffee jar. Activated nuts have more nutrients and have the bad stuff removed which also makes them more digestible.