Whether you are new to raw food preparation, or have been eating this way for a while, you have probably noticed that nuts are used in many raw food recipes to replace traditional ingredients such as cheese and other dairy products. Dairy contains unhealthy animal fat and other substances you may want to avoid. Nuts provide protein, “healthy” fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. We used to think that nuts just made us fat. Now we know that they can help fight heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Remember, Soaking nuts is an important part of making them digestible and eliminating enzyme inhibitors so that your body can get the most nutrition from them.
Before we start discussing all of the incredible benefits of nuts, one thing should be cleared up. It involves the pasteurization of nuts. Because of legislation in the U.S., most of the nuts we buy are not truly raw. If they have been shelled, they have most likely seen steam, and many nuts are dried with heat in order to reduce moisture. They are not sprout-able. You can find truly raw nuts, you just have to look. On-line is a good place to start. That being said, nuts are still powerful foods that become a great compliment to your raw diet.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most used nuts and what they provide:
Walnuts: Now considered a “super food”, walnuts are one of the nutritious nuts. They are high in alpha-linolenic acid and omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce the potential for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and clinical depression. Studies have shown that eating walnuts can reduce LDL (bad) chlosterol, and also help with diabetes. Good in salads, pates and flat breads.
Almonds: High in protein, zinc and calcium, almonds are also a great source of vitamin E magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Another nut that can help reduce bad cholesterol. Many uses including pates, milks, and crusts.
Brazil Nuts: Extremely high in selenium which is a powerful antioxidant. It also improves mood and mental performance. They are also high in minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, and magnesium. Makes a very rich nut milk and are great in spreads.
Cashews:Like the other nuts, cashews are a good source of protein and fiber. They are also a good source of potassium, B vitamin, foliate, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and copper. Extremely versatile in raw food recipes. Spreads, “cheeses”, cheese cakes, ice creams, dips, etc.
Pecans: Zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A are only a part of what these tasty nuts provide. They also have been proven increase the results of a diet designed to lower cholesterol. Makes an interesting milk, great in salads and also a good addition to raw desserts.
Hazel Nuts: Once again, a great resource for lowering cholesterol. In addition to protein, fiber and iron, hazel nuts also bring vitamin C, and the B vitamins to the table. Great in raw desserts and breads.
Pine Nuts: Good for your cardiovascular system, and filled with calcium, vitamins D, C and A. Pine nuts can be good for your eyes and immune system. Great as a substitute for Parmesan cheese and adding a salty zip to many dishes.
Macadamia Nuts: One of the few nuts that have palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is said to help reduce stored body fat by increasing metabolism. They are also rich in omega 3’s and vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. Wonderful in desserts, spreads, salads, pates.
We once used to think of nuts as just fat laden treats that we should stay away from. Now, they are becoming an important element for health. They are nutrient dense and also satisfying. Remember, a little goes a long way!