Thursday, January 21, 2010

Know Your Nut

When I was first began to research raw foods and its preparation I noticed that nuts are used in many raw food recipes to replace traditional ingredients such as cheese, creams and sauces. Dairy contains animal fat and other substances that I wanted to avoid. Nuts provide protein, “healthy” fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. I used to think that nuts would just make me fat. Now I know that these very same nuts can help fight heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. I learned that soaking nuts is an important part of making them digestible and eliminating enzyme inhibitors so that my body can get the most nutrition from them.

Before I list a variety of nuts and their benefits I should clear up the term ‘raw’ nuts. Almost all nuts are pasteurized. Because of legislation in the U.S., most of the nuts we buy are not truly raw. If they have been shelled, they have most likely seen steam, and many nuts are dried with heat in order to reduce moisture. These are not sprout-able. That being said, nuts are still powerful foods that become a great compliment to your raw diet. states that they sell true raw cashews that are sproutable and no, they are not poisonous. I have never purchased any from them. I purchase ‘raw organic’ cashews in bulk from my grocery store. These are shelled and pasturized.

Here are a few nuts and what they provide:

Walnuts: One of the nutritious nuts. They are high in alpha-linolenic acid and omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce the potential for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and clinical depression. Studies have shown that eating walnuts can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, and also help with diabetes. Good in salads, pates and flat breads.

Almonds: High in protein, zinc and calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Another nut that can help reduce bad cholesterol. Many uses including pates, milks, and crusts.

Brazil Nuts: High in selenium which is a powerful antioxidant. It also improves mood and mental performance. They are also high in minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, and magnesium. Makes a very rich nut milk and are great in spreads.

Cashews: Like the other nuts, cashews are a good source of protein and fiber. They are also a good source of potassium, B vitamin, foliate, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and copper. Extremely versatile in raw food recipes. Spreads, “cheeses”, cheese cakes, ice creams, dips, etc.

Pecans: Zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A. Great in salads and and used in raw pie crusts

Hazel Nuts: Once again, a great resource for lowering cholesterol. In addition to protein, fiber and iron, hazel nuts also bring vitamin C, and the B vitamins to the table. Great in raw desserts and breads.

Pine Nuts: Good for your cardiovascular system, and filled with calcium, vitamins D, C and A. Pine nuts can be good for your eyes and immune system. Great as a substitute for Parmesan cheese and adding a salty zip to many dishes.

Macadamia Nuts: One of the few nuts that have palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is said to help reduce stored body fat by increasing metabolism. They are also rich in omega 3’s and vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. Wonderful in desserts, spreads, salads, pates.

I no longer think of nuts as a fatty treat that I shouldn’t be consuming. Full of nutrients and so satisfying, I eat them every day!


Steve said...

I love nuts too, Julie. Each weekday morning I have a bowl of chopped walnuts and almonds with some almond milk and dried fruit. I also use almonds quite a bit in my salads. Nutty, eh?

Heidi Swift - Grit and Glimmer said...

I myself am on a big nut bonanza right now. In fact, I just had sauteed cauliflower and carrots with cinammon and walnuts. Delish! I"ve been eating them in cereal, protein shakes, and as a healthy "crust" on salmon (ground pecans). So filling, too - they really create a feeling of satiation.

Great post, Julie!

SteveQ said...

Every day I have my nuts (esp. almonds and walnuts); you are what you eat ;-) Seeds, too. Just felt it worth pointing out there's raw and there's labeled raw.

See you at the 1/2 marathon tomorrow!