Unlocking the delicious and nutritious hiddenpower of nature’s hardiest fruit
Story by Russ Thompson
Nuts are often touted as a great snack for those watching their waistlines. Most varieties of nuts are terrific sources of protein, are high in antioxidants, contain unsaturated fats, are a good source of fiber, and contain nutrients such as copper, magnesium, and vitamin E. Not only are they beneficial in several ways, nuts are also practically an American institution. Here are several benefits of enjoying different types of this popular type of food along with some head-turning facts and suggestions for consumption.
Almonds, which are the seeds of the almond tree, originally grew in the Middle East. According to scientist and writer, Amanda C. Niehaus, almonds are much better for us when they are activated. This means fooling the almonds into sprouting, which they don’t normally do under dry conditions due to enzyme inhibitors. The ‘activation’ is not a process that’s expensive or difficult to do, either. Just soak your almonds for twelve hours and they will begin the sprouting process. Once they become activated, they provide nutrients that are more easily absorbed by the body than their unactivated counterparts. If you wish to roast them, it’s important to allow them to dry out completely first. Now you can enjoy your almonds and get more nutrition from them. To enjoy them, include them with your curried vegetables or chicken salad. They also make a great addition to many desserts.
Walnuts originally hail from Persia (English Walnut) and the eastern United States (black walnut). When asked what type of nut she would consider to be the healthiest, Dietician Amy Schiller picked the walnut, “Many people eat fish to get the Omega-three fatty acids they need, but walnuts are a terrific source. These fatty acids provide many benefits including brain health.” Walnuts even contain an especially heart-friendly form of gamma-tocopherol vitamin E. When it comes to men in particular, this form of vitamin E has been linked to heart protection. Consumption of walnuts has also been shown to help people with type two diabetes. Even the skin of walnuts has been proven to be rich in phenols. If you can get past the bitterness you will treat your body to rich tannins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. You can enjoy them as a snack on their own or sprinkled onto an entrée, dessert or salad.
The Truth About Cashews
Cashews come from the cashew apple, the cashew tree’s fruit, and are native to northeastern Brazil. They are delicious and popular but often maligned for being full of fat. The George Mateljan Foundation states that 82% of these are unsaturated fatty acids, most of which are monounsaturated fats. This variety of fat is quite good for your heart. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, nuts such as cashews are also counted amongst plant-based food with higher antioxidants. As if this wasn’t enough, cashews are an excellent source of copper and magnesium. Copper is needed for many functions including the production of melanin, bone and tissue development and in the utilization of iron. Magnesium is essential for healthy bones. The caustic resin from cashew shells can even be used to make varnish or insecticides. Cashews taste great on their own, sprinkled on sautéed vegetables or ground into butter.
What’s the Best Nut Butter?
Everyone loves the spreadable consistency of nut butters. An Iowa Women’s Health Study showed that the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases decreased greatly amongst people who consumed nut butters regularly. However, there is a lot to choose from on the market today. This may leave one wondering what’s the healthiest option. According to Madeline Vann, MPH, almond butter takes home the prize. Almond butter is high in monounsaturated fats that promote heart health. It also has less sugar than peanut butter and does not contain hydrogenated oils if you buy a brand that only contains almonds. Walnut butter is also a good bet because of the high amount of Omega-threes, although it does contain more fat than almond butter, and may also be harder to find on grocery store shelves.