Nuts, Nuts, and more Nuts

We are still in the wintry holiday season….which starts with Thanksgiving and goes until New Year’s Day when we start again to make resolutions hoping to change our lives.

With the holidays comes the question of food – what to eat and what not to eat?  In my Detox Diet Plan, I recommend that you eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables until you are comfortable with the Plan. Are you ready to add NUTS?

I love nuts…but are they all good for detoxification.  Is there a healthy reason for eating them?

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PEANUTS – for years were at the top of the list for nuts. I always bought peanuts, all kinds, in the shell, dry roasted, party, spanish, boiled, and etc. Today peanuts are highly processed, and have a high fat content. I will talk more on that later in the blog. Over the last few year other nuts have come to the front of the pack. They include almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia, hazel, cashew, Brazil, Pistachios, pine nuts and many seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, and lately cantaloupe, star fruit, watermelon, flax and many more.  It can boggle your mind.

So – what is there to know about these nuts and seeds? I will touch on some and elaborate on the one’s that fit best into the Detox Diet Plan.

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PISTACHIOS – My favorite, have, through research been revealed as a healthy snack. In 2011 a research paper stated that “pistachios eaten with a meal high in carbohydrates lowered blood glucose response.” Further studies show that pistachio consumption correlates with weight control, have anti-inflammatory benefits, may lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, lower triglyceride levels and contain a broad spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals, protein , fiber and phytochemicals.

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ALMONDS – The almond is a species of tree native to the middle east, the Indian Subcontinent and North Africa. “Almond” is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. (Wikipedia) Their benefits are suggested by  nutritionist all over the world for use in many ways to include: eating raw as a healthy snack; as the base for almond butter, almond milk, almond flour and even in fragrances and body lotions. Nutritionally, almonds are a very good source of Vitamin E, manganese, biotin and copper, magnesium, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), and phosphorus. Unfortunately they contain FAT. The good news is…..that a portion size of 1/4 cup of almonds is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They are low in Cholesterol and Sodium. Before you get carried away to make a meal of them – REMEMBER – EAT in Moderation.

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WALNUTS – have been noted as having more nutritional value than Pecans. As a fiber, it is safe to eat them everyday; alone, in salads, added to casseroles and vegetables. A Walnut is the nut of any tree of the genus Juglans. Technically a walnut is the seed of a drupaceous nut and this is not a true botanical nut. (Wikipedia). Walnuts have been claimed as the World’s Healthiest Nut. They are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 essential fatty acids – in the form of alpha-linolinic acid (ALA). They are also a good source of manganese, copper, molybdenum and biotin the B vitamin. They contain heart healthy fats. As for Walnuts vs Pecans…both are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. They are an excellent source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.

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HAZELNUTS (Also known as FILBERTS) – Are considered one of the lowest fat nuts. They are the nut of the hazel, derived from the genus species Corylus. Hazels are rich in energy and many other health-benefiting nutrients. They are heart healthy and brain boosting, skin improving and may even protect against cancer. They are a sweet flavored nut and are rich in protein and Vitamin E. Can be used in baking and as a snack. I love them.

The BRAZIL NUthT – comes from South America. Little known is the fact that Brazil nuts have the ability to stimulate growth and repair and boost heart health. The selenium they contain improves thyroid function, protects against cancer, lowers LDL, and fights inflammation.  This is also one of my favorites, but I have such a hard time cracking the shell.

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COCONUT – Has come into a good place in the last few years. In the past most people just thlooked at the coconut as an exotic that came from Hawaii and a few other countries, had little nutritional value, had shells that no one wanted to bother with as far as removing, but were delicious as long as the coconut had been mechanically processed for eating purposes.  Coconut Macaroons have always been my favorite cookie. Coconut oil is now on the rise being suggested as good for weight loss, hair growth, thyroid function, skin care and etc, etc, etc. This nut needs it own Blog for its pro and con information. It is on my agenda so look for it down the road (so to speak).

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PINE NUT – Expensive (usually over $10.99/lb) but is a great nut to add to the Detox Diet Plan. The eating of Pine Nuts dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times when they were commonly preserved in honey. Pine nuts were a common food for Native American Indian tribes but are also a staple in other countries. You may know of them by other names to include: Indian nut, pignon, pinolos, pinhao and as I learned of them, Pinon Pine (pinus nembroides, or pinis pinea). They are grown extensively in the USA in  Utah, Nevada and Colorado. They are a nut low in fat and can be used in many recipes. I first ate them in a Turkey dressing on Thanksgiving…mmmm good. They are edible seeds of the female cone of the pine trees. They are small, elongated in shape, ivory in color and about 1/2″ long with a soft texture, and sweet buttery flavor – to me. They can be roasted  They are a healthy source of essential minerals, vitamins and heart healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids that help to cut cholesterol levels in blood. It’s emollient property helps to keep
skin protected from dryness. It is used in various traditional medicinal applications.

Now let’s talk about SEEDS.

The two I like are Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds.

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SUNFLOWER SEEDS – are about 6mm to 10 mm in length and have a conical shape with a smooth surface.  The outer coat, referred to as the hull, encloses a single, gray-white edible kernel. They come from the Sunflower – each sunflower head may hold several hundreds of edible oil seeds. They are crunchy and nutty and considered as a healthful food.  The benefitting nutrients values are minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. Their calories come from fatty acids – the good ones to include poly unsaturated linoleic acid and mono-unsaturated oleic acid that helps lower LDL (Bad cholesterol) and increases HDL (the good cholesterol in the blood). They are also considered a good source of protein, amino acids, natural antioxidants, chlorogenic acid (which helps reduce blood sugar levels), Vitamin E, B-Complex Vitamins, and essential minerals to include: calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper.

The seed is harvested when they turn brown and dry. Buy only the good seeds. Avoid thin, shriveled up seeds or old stock. Store at room temperature in a bin or jar. Once the kernels are hulled (shelled), it is best to store them in an airtight container inside the refrigerator. Like most seeds they can be eaten as a snack, in salads, sprinkled over veggies, casseroles, baked goods and are now, I just found out are available as Sunflower Seed Butter, sold as Sun Butter, which is a suitable alternative in peanut allergies.

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PUMPKIN SEEDS – This seed has provided the most interesting research I’ve met. The botanical name is Cucurbita pepo from the name of the Cucurbitaceae family (which the pumpkin from which the seeds come, is actually considered a fruit). Wow, this is worse than me doing genealogy research. Like the pine nut pumpkin seeds and their oil dates back in use to the time of the Greeks and the origin is unknown other than it dates back to before 5000 B.C. They were found in Mexico and before that – who knows. The use for them in ancient times was for healing damaged skin such as burns. I also found that heat destroys its healthy properties – so I ask, why do they roast them? The oil is a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, both of which are found to increase energy and mental focus. Traditional medicinal use includes treating parasites and worms and as well, bladder infections. They too are a heart healthy snack food and if eaten an hour or so before bedtime can induce a good nights sleep. They are also known as being beneficially used “to address” prostate issues. (Works cited include: American Botanical Council and “Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffman).

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, phosphorus and iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. It is a diet-friendly fiber, curbs hunger, and has Vitamin A (for eye health). They serve as a great topping on salads, eggs, in soups and wraps.

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PEANUTS – I am going to end with a note about Peanuts – which are simple legumes – included in the beans and lentils family. They are high in protein, folate, Vitamin E and basically the rest of the same nutrients as their legume friends. Today, the drawback or a caution deals with allergies, especially in children, which can also crop up later in life in adults. One of the reasons for allergies has to do with Aflatoxins, a fungus peanuts are susceptible to. It’s naturally occurring and is known as a carcinogen that is many times more toxic than DDT. This would be particularly hazardous to persons prone to liver disease and it would be wise to avoid eating them just to be on the safe side. I recommend, eat at your own discretion.

NOTE: Nuts and seeds are structural foods and are a good source for strengthening the whole body.

The healthiest nuts for Detox are noted in their descriptions. Just remember – eat in moderation – do not make a meal of nuts, they can cause acid issues in the stomach. They are energy robbing and will slow or stop the cleansing process. They all are great as a snack, and I recommend that you eat them raw – usually 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Keep in mind always – the Alkaline/Acid balance of 80% Alkaline to 20% Acid that you are trying to support throughout the Detox Diet process.

Happy Holidays and God Bless!

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