Surprising Health Benefits of Nuts & Seeds
I love nuts and seeds. I think I must have been a bird in a past life. Good thing, too, as they are Powerfoods!
Don’t Be So Scared of the Fat:
A Nurses Health Study found that nurses who ate nuts five times a week had less heart disease and on average were thinner compared with those who did not eat nuts.
5 Benefits of Nuts and Seeds:
- Best plant sources of protein. The American Cancer Association is recommending a plant-based diet for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. An ounce of nuts provides 6 g of protein on average.
- Filled with heart healthy fat. They contain healthful mono- and polyunsaturated fats which are essential in managing inflammation and maintaining the normal structure of every body cell. People who consumed nuts five times a week had a 35 percent reduction in heart disease risk according to a British Medical Journal study in 1998.
- High energy foods. They are filled with lots of calories; for example 1 ounce of almonds contain about 165 calories; 1 ounce of brazil nuts contain about 190 calories. So do not eat too many or you will gain weight.
- Powerful minerals. They contain many minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus needed for bone development, immunity and energy production. In a study of almost 400 men (age from 45-92) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition they found a correlation between low dietary intake of zinc, low blood levels of the trace mineral and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.
- Needed vitamins. They are great sources of B Vitamins and Vitamin E.
Proof of the Power of Nuts and Seeds
- A study published in the April 2002 Journal of Nutrition had people replace half the fat in their daily diets with almonds for six weeks. Researchers found that the almond eaters’ bad cholesterol went down six percent, and good cholesterol went up six percent. In addition, blood fat dropped 14 percent.
- These studies show it’s the combination in nuts of monounsaturated fats and protective plant compounds known as flavonoids that reduces the risk of heart disease.
- According to research at the University of Toronto, eating heart-healthy foods, including almonds, can help reduce LDL, or the bad cholesterol levels, as much as a first-line statin drug.
- Research at Tufts University found the flavonoids in almond skins work in synergy with vitamin E to protect artery walls from damage reducing the risk of heart disease.
Are raw nut and seeds good for you? Ask a squirrel!
If you give a squirrel a raw nut, it will not eat it, but always will bury it. It will only dig it up when the nut has sprouted. They have found sensors in squirrels noses that can identify a sprouted nut.
Raw, unsprouted nuts have enzyme inhibitors that make them difficult to digest. When the nut sprouts, these inhibitors are deactivated. Smart squirrels!
Raw nuts or seeds can have a bitter taste; this is due to enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors can affect the digestion of the nuts and seeds. Soaking or roasting the nuts and seeds remove the enzyme inhibitors.
The high heat from roasting will remove the enzyme inhibitors but will destroy many of the nutrients.
The best way to get the most nutrients from nuts and seeds is to start the sprouting process by soaking them.
How to get the most nutrients from nuts and seeds:
Soaking them will keep them more nutritious and brings out the natural sweet flavor of the nuts and seeds. They become live foods. Learn how to sprout them.
The enzyme inhibitors are washed away when the nuts and seed are soaked; also the digestion of the proteins and carbohydrates begins. A bonus is that the soaking removes 30 percent of the oil content, making nuts and seeds easier on the liver, easier to digest, and of course, reduces calories.
They are not actually sprouted, just soaked (3 to 12 hours) which begins the sprouting process.
For a snack I love to have a piece of fresh fruit with a few soaked nuts and seeds. They make a great snack because they provide protein, fiber and fat: that combination makes for a satisfying snack with staying power.
My favorite nut happens to be almonds. They are so nutritious and delicious, many people consider them their favorite. What is yours?
Nutritious Nut Loaf Recipe: This is baked so the soaking is not so critical.