Nuts and seeds offer a wide range of health benefits. They are an excellent source of healthy and essential fat, loaded with key nutrients, high in fiber and they play a role in disease prevention.
Several studies have found that nuts and seeds have properties that protect the heart and lower the risk of heart disease. Including nuts and seeds in your diet will actually help you maintain a healthy weight, will improve the lining of your arteries and has been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 11% and raise HDL levels.
Nuts are also packed with magnesium which helps balance calcium and potassium ratios that are crucial to heart health and blood pressure. Proper amounts of magnesium in the diet also guard against osteoporosis and Type 2 Diabetes.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Along with the benefits of magnesium the high fiber content of nuts and seeds help keep blood glucose and insulin levels in optimal levels.
All kinds of nuts and seeds are great brain food. The high essential fatty-acid content in nuts and seeds fuel the brain. The brain is 60% fat and needs fat from our diet to keep functioning properly. These healthy fats help improve memory, and actually allow your brain to store and process information faster.
Omega-3 fatty acids help to combat inflammation and depression. Walnuts, in particular, have been found to increase serotonin levels in the way that antidepressant drugs do.
Eating a Variety is Best
Almonds: Known as the most nutrient dense nut and are rich in antioxidants.
Cashews: Excellent source of magnesium for bone and nervous system health.
Walnuts: High in Omega 3 fatty acids that combat inflammation and depression. Shown to prevent and curb growth of cancerous tumors.
Pumpkin Seeds: Excellent source of the bone building minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. Pumpkin seeds have properties in their oils that have antimicrobial benefits.
Sunflower Seeds: Excellent source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cell membranes and italso has a significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Flax & Chia Seeds: contain mucilaginous fiber—help to delay gastric emptying and can improve intestinal absorption of nutrients.
Hemp Hearts: Best source of plant based complete with 15 grams of protein in ¼ of a cup.
Buying the Best Nuts and Seeds
Paying attention to quality is the key. Buy nuts and seeds that are organic and raw*, not pasteurized, irradiated or roasted.
Although roasted nuts and seeds are delicious, commercially roasted nuts and seeds are best avoided. The roasting process damages the nutrients and the beneficially fats found in the nuts or seeds. Soaking nuts and seeds is recommended and will actually boost their digestibility and the availability of nutrients. Roasting raw nuts and seeds at home will also maintain their beneficial properties. Find instructions on soaking and roasting here.
*U.S. grown raw almonds are no longer available commercially. Since 2007, all almonds grown and sold in the U.S. must be “pasteurized.” The process of pasteurization means fumigated with chemicals—or steamed, if organic. Cashews that are labeled raw are not truly raw. In order to be edible cashews must undergo two separate heatings at harvest. To get truly raw almonds and cashews with all their enzymes and vitamins intact, you must get them directly from the farmer or suppliers like Sunfood, Terrasoul or Vivapura avaiable on Amazon.com.
What are your favorite nuts and seeds?