I really love eating nuts and seeds, and you should, too! They're satisfying, they taste great, they give great texture to foods and they're a great source of heart-healthy fats, protein, fiber, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, and many other minerals and antioxidants. What is there not to like about nuts and seeds? I often add them to my Blasts toward the end and extract them just a little for that perfect, crunchy texture.
A study of more than 34,000 people showed that those who consumed nuts at least five times a week had half the rate of heart attack as those who seldom ate nuts; those who ate nuts only once a week still had a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease than those that ate few nuts and seeds. Similarly, the Nurses’ Health Study, involving over 86,000 women, reported a lower rate of heart disease among frequent nut eaters.
Most nuts and seeds contain more than 60 percent monounsaturated fats, the same fats found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fats are heart healthy. Some nuts and seeds are also great providers of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and are protective to our joints, blood vessels and brain. However, the American diet is full of unhealthy inflammatory fats. Most of these come from processed foods that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids and hydrogenated fats (also know as trans fats). One of nature's answers to this problem can be found in nuts and seeds! We need to include the nuts and seeds with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in our daily diet to maintain optimum health.
Let's get one nut out of the way! This nut isn't really a nut at all, and it might be the most famous: the peanut. Peanuts, along with other nuts and seeds, were included in the studies mention above. Peanuts are actually legumes, which include beans, peas and lentels. Like nuts and seeds, peanuts have many health benefits and are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated oils, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, resveratrol, and many minerals. However, be careful when buying peanuts or peanut butter. The commercial processing of peanut butter can taint them with highly processed and unhealthy ingredients. Many peanut butters have added sugars and other ingredients that make it less healthy. Most come roasted and salted and may also contain MSG. Be careful when buying any nut or seed. Choose organic if possible.
If you have problems digesting raw nuts (you get bloating, cramping, gas, etc.) then you should soak them overnight and then rinse them well. This will remove the phytic acid coating, which can cause digestive issues for some.
Seeds tend to have less calories per ounce than nuts because of their lower fat content, but some contain more protein than certain nuts.
This is my go-to list of nuts and seeds for optimal health and omega-3 intake.
- Ground flax seeds - very high in omega 3’s and rich in many nutrients and soluble fiber
- Sacha Inchi seeds - very high in omega 3’s and protein
- Chia seeds - very high in omega 3’s, loaded with many nutrients
- Black seeds - have over 1600 healing compounds, may help with many adverse health conditions
- Pumpkin seeds - great source of zinc and magnesium, which helps us relax; great for men’s health
- Walnuts - good source of omega 3’s, have the ability to reduce c-reactive protein, making it very heart protective
- Pecans - pecans have the highest antioxidant power of all nuts and are rich in many nutrients
- Cashews - magnesium and tryptophan content helps improve our mood
- Almonds - protect our brain from dementia and help with neuron activity
Nuts and seeds may potentially improve:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Digestive disorders
- Heart disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alzheimer’s and dementia
So start adding them to your Blasts today! Sprinkle nuts and seeds over your favorite salad, or ground them up and make a delicious, healthy coating for fish or lean chicken. The possibilities are endless!