Nuts for Health

Nutritious and versatile, nuts are some of the best foods we can eat. Learn how to transform nuts into three simple pantry staples.

| January/February 2016

  • Nutritious and versatile, nuts are among the best foods you can eat, and are tasty in many forms.
    Photo by iStock

Nuts are among the world’s primo health foods. Reach for any of the tree nuts—almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. They’ll reduce inflammation; fight cancer and heart disease; improve cognitive function; bolster digestive and immune systems; and manage weight, blood pressure and blood sugar. All this, plus they offer protein for energy and fats to help us feel full.

Specific nutritional benefits vary from one nut to another. In The Best Things You Can Eat, David Grotto details many of them: An ounce of Brazil nuts provides more than 700 percent of our daily requirement for selenium; hazelnuts are rich in folate and a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called proanthocyanidin that protects the heart; almonds have antimicrobial qualities; pecans increase metabolism; pistachios protect blood vessels; and walnuts have more antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut—which together help improve brain function, reduce inflammation, and help protect against cancer, heart disease and premature aging. Nuts are not low-calorie, but the bulk of their calories are locked in heart-healthy fats.

Easy Nut Recipes

Simple Roasted Nuts Recipe
Easy Nut Milk Recipe
Basic, Homemade Nut Butter Recipe

Nuts in the Kitchen

The culinary capabilities of nuts are equally impressive. They are delicious raw, toasted, roasted, baked and fried, and they have sweet and savory notes that make them versatile in many easy recipes. Crushed or finely chopped, nuts make a crisp crust on fish filets and meat cutlets. They can also be transformed into flours, butters and milks—all easy to make using common kitchen equipment. Nut flours lend moistness to baked goods—try subbing nut flour for one-quarter of the wheat flour in baking recipes. You can use nut milks in place of dairy milk in many recipes, and transform these milks into yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Nut butters enhance sauces and soups by adding flavor and body, and, of course, nut butters are delicious on bread, with or without jelly. Nut oils are wonderful for many cooking applications; walnut oil is prized for its fine flavor.

Buying and Storing Nuts

Unlike the superfoods that hail from exotic locations around the globe, nutritious nuts grow on trees all over North America. Most nuts are harvested in late summer and fall, and they’re usually dried to help them store longer. Freshly picked raw nuts are a treat, so seek them out at your local farmers market. When you find a good deal on freshly harvested nuts, buy them in bulk to freeze and use the rest of the year. According to On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, the best way to store nuts is in opaque containers at cool temperatures. Because nuts contain little water, they freeze well and keep for a long time without damage from ice crystals. Nut oils are best stored in dark bottles in the refrigerator.


Try these resources when look for organically grown nuts.

A. Cain
1/19/2018 8:06:59 PM

If you have a large yard, or a homestead, seriously consider planting a couple of Carpathian walnut trees. They grow in many areas of the country, and are incredibly inexpensive. If you spend $20 this year on two trees (two are necessary for cross-pollination), it will be several years before you get any nuts, but when they are full-grown, they will grow more than 100 pounds of good-quality nuts per tree; these are the good walnuts you buy in stores. They could actually provide a substantial payback, even a scholarship fund for your children and grandchildren. If you don't need the money, they would make a fabulous contribution to a food bank! If you have a homestead, you could plant a row of these trees and pay off the land.



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