The Misunderstanding of Fats – Nuts and Seeds

nuts and seeds

Highly concentrated in nutrients and also considered super foods. A small handful of nuts are an excellent energy source. Eating a variety of nuts appears to be the best way to get all the different benefits each nut has to offer.

Before we review the many benefits of healthy nuts and seeds, let’s clear up some common misconceptions:

  1. Chocolate covered nuts or seeds mixed with granola are not healthy options. They are only healthy in their natural state.
  2. Nuts make you fat? Nuts and seeds, in a daily moderate amount, are an ideal source of as healthy fats, excess could lead to weight gain amongst other health issues. Remember, overconsumption of anything can do harm.

Nuts and seeds provide a variety of healthy fats; most are monounsaturated fat, some are polyunsaturated, and some are saturated. They also contain fiber, and some are high in omega-3. The following is a brief summary of some common nuts and seeds, as described in The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.

Almonds: Almost 70 percent of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat, which is thought to be the key to health in the Mediterranean diet. Another benefit of almonds is that they contain only six grams of carbohydrates, half of which come from fiber.

Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, which helps combat the effects of heavy metals. Good for constipation and it is also important in the formation of thyroid hormone.

Cashews: A little lower in calories (by weight) than other nuts, cashews provide magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium.

Hazelnuts: Hazelnuts contain beta-sitosterol, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol and reduce symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Macadamia Nuts: Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium can be found in these nuts, along with beta-sitosterol.

Peanuts: Actually a legume, not a nut, peanuts are high in antioxidants. Purchase only organic peanut butter that only has peanuts and sea salt.

Pecans: Besides their monounsaturated fat content, pecans contain potassium, vitamin E, phytosterols and beta-sitosterol. 

Pistachios: Many studies have been done on nut consumption in general, but two have been done specifically on pistachios. One showed that when pistachios were used in place of other fat sources, they improved lipid profiles and decreased the risk of coronary heart disease. The other showed that pistachio consumption decreased oxidative stress and improved total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. 

Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds are also high in beta-sitosterol and therefore have benefits for prostate health as well as the ability to lower cholesterol levels.

Sesame Seeds: The lignans of sesame seeds enhance vitamin E absorption, improve lipid profiles and support healthy blood pressure levels. Animal studies have shown that sesame seeds have the potential to increase fat utilization. 

Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds have been shown to provide antioxidant and anticarcinogenic benefits. They also provide more protein and fiber than most nuts. 

Walnuts: Walnuts contain more omega-3 than any other nut, and although it’s not the same as the DHA and EPA that come from fish oil, it’s still seen as a very healthy nut. 

Buy Raw And Toast Your Own!

Commercial nuts and seeds are loaded with low quality salt that are harmful to your health. Even if the label reads “sea salt” it is most likely low grade, de-mineralized salt.

Nuts are very nutritious foods, but they contain phytic acid; a substances that can block the absorption of minerals. Phytic acid needs to be neutralized because it combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption and irritating the digestive tract. Soaking or sprouting your nuts and seeds allows them to start the “digestion” process before they even enter your body, giving better absorption of ALL the nutrition they contain.

The best way to consume nuts and seeds is to properly soak or sprout to neutralize the phytic acid. Then dry in a dehydrator, in a low heated oven, or out in the sun! This may take about 24 hours  or longer to dry. Roasting is another way to prepare them or, you can make nut butter after a good soaking.

The preparation technique of soaking makes nuts much more digestible. These nuts make an excellent snack, especially when combined with cheese or whole raw milk.

How Do I Soak/Sprout Nuts and Seeds?
Soaking: use high quality sea salt, Himalayan salt, or any other mineral dense salt. Then dissolve it in filtered water, add nuts or seeds, soak for 7 hours, rinse, and drain well, then dry as suggested above, turning occasionally.

Basic Ratio; For every 4 Cups raw nuts, add 1 Tbs. sea salt and optional 2 tsp. of liquid whey (see protein for information on this).

Sprouting: to sprout, soak nuts or seeds in water (everyone has its own time and there have been books written on this subject so here we will suggest an overnight soaking, then strain in the morning and rinse about 4 times throughout the day. Make sure they don’t get dry. They will begin to sprout right away or may take a few days.

  • A word of caution: when something is healthy, we tend to think we can eat as much as we want. That’s not the case with nuts and seeds, where consumption can quickly get out of hand.
  • If you’re already consuming too many food portions and want to lose weight, you may need to remove something from your daily diet in order to add nuts or seeds to it.
  • Most of the health benefits of nut and seed consumption seem to be from 1 to 1½ ounces per day.If you’re not in the habit of eating nuts and seeds on a daily basis, weigh an ounce so you know what the right amount looks like.
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