Get Healthy with Nuts and Seeds

| November/December 2002

  • Almonds are a popular brain food, but did you know that they also have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and demulcent properties?
    Photo By Barbara Dudzińska/Fotolia

The word nut comes from the Latin nux, meaning “to nourish.” Nuts are a loose term for dry, hard-shelled fruits. The shells, which protect against bacteria and damage, must be removed before eating. Nuts help clean and strengthen the teeth and gums. They relieve constipation, have a “grounding” effect, calm nervousness, and tonify a weak person. They are good for bodybuilders and to increase sexual desire in both sexes. Seeds and nuts contain the genetic potential for starting a new life. Because of this, they contain much nourishment. Both contain excellent vegetarian protein per volume—they provide more protein than meat or milk. They also contain phytosterols, or plant hormones, that have a structure similar to human hormones.

Many people avoid nuts because of their high fat content. Nuts have a higher fat content than seeds, and seeds are higher in iron than nuts. Technically, all nuts are seeds. Both provide beneficial fats, vitamins, and minerals. Both nuts and seeds contain beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, vitamins D and E, and calcium. They are high in trace minerals and help regulate blood sugar. They are cholesterol free, and eating, for example, three ounces of almonds—along with a low-fat diet—can actually help lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol) within three weeks. Raw nuts contain lipase, an enzyme that helps digest fats.

3 Nutty Recipes

Homemade Vegetable Burgers 
Gourmet Dessert Balls
Nut Milk 

Using Nuts and Seeds

The best way to use nuts is to buy them in their shells and crack them as needed. Shells free of cracks, holes, and imperfections prevent free radical damage caused by light and air. They keep in unbroken shells for about a year. Next best is to buy whole nuts and seeds that are kept refrigerated. Store nuts in glass jars (because high-oil foods can combine with plastic to form toxic compounds) away from heat and light, in a cool place, preferably the refrigerator. Slivered, cracked, blanched, and broken nut pieces are likely to be rancid. Nuts that are rubbery, moldy, rancid, or acrid should be composted. Rancid products irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, cannot be assimilated, weaken the immune system, have their vitamin A, D, and E destroyed, and can damage the health of the liver and gallbladder. Almonds are less prone to rancidity. Walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds tend to go rancid more quickly than other nuts.

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