Nuts are a great heart-healthy food. They shouldn't need a special day, October 22, for you to consider adding them to your diet. It's important to know that raw nuts are best for you. With conventionally roasted nuts, even dry roasting, the roasting process may seem tastier, but the oils are usually not the best quality. The oil can potentially be genetically modified corn, or from highly acidifying peanut oil, neither of which is something that we recommend. In addition to the poor choice of oils, the heat destroys some of the nutrients in the nuts.
Raw nuts are best
Raw nuts are best but for optimal nutrient density, you can boost the nutrition by soaking them. This breaks down the phytic acid coating, an enzyme that protects the nuts until they're ready to sprout but inhibits our ability to absorb nutrients. When soaking or sprouting the nuts you remove this phytic acid coating which makes the nutrients more bioavailable. Soaking/sprouting couldn't be simpler:
- 4 cups of nuts
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Place nuts in a quart jar, add salt, and fill with water
- Let soak overnight
- Drain and then dry in dehydrator or oven set at 175ºF 12-24 hours or until completely dry.
Nuts are a healthy choice
Nuts provide a good source of protein. They're also highly antioxidant, great for cardiovascular health, and a delicious choice for snacking. There is even some evidence that eating nuts can be healthy for maintaining weight. They can be added to salads, cooked dishes, eaten as a snack, sprinkled into breakfast cereal. There are many different ways to eat include them in your diet. While they're great on their own, they can also be a fabulous addition to salads, desserts, and even pilafs or casseroles.
One of my favorite ways to eat nuts is to make my 3-2-1 Trail Mix. This is a great nutrient dense snack (especially if you soak the nuts and seeds ahead of time) and perfect for on-the-go or anytime you need a quick protein boost.
- 3 parts raw nuts (soaked/sprouted preferred)
- 2 parts raw seeds (soaked/sprouted preferred)
- 1 part dried fruit
- Be sure to look for dried fruit that does not have added sugar, sulfites, or other preservatives
Nutrients in nuts
Different nuts have different nutrients making it a good idea to snack on a variety rather than just one or two. I find that a quick and easy trail mix is 3 parts nuts, 2 parts seeds, 1 part dried fruit. Mixing different nuts and seeds gives you a tasty treat and a nutritional boost.
For those who really want to know:
Acorns – highest in manganese
Almonds – highest in manganese and vitamin E
Beechnuts – highest in manganese
Brazil nuts – extremely high in selenium, also a great source of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium
Cashews – highest in copper, but also a good source of magnesium and tryptophan
Chestnuts – (European) highest in manganese
Hazelnuts – (also called filberts) very high in vitamin E and a good source of B vitamins
Hickory nuts – very high in selenium, also high in magnesium, thiamin, and copper
Macadamia nuts – very high in selenium and thiamin, also high in copper and magnesium
Peanuts – not a nut, they're actually a legume, a good source of manganese and tryptophan
Pecans – very high in manganese, also high in copper and thiamin
Pistachio – very high in B6, a good source of manganese, copper, phosphorus, and thiamin
Walnuts – very high in omega 3 fatty acids and a great source of manganese