Recent nutritional studies have indicated that adding raw nuts and seeds to the diet has many health benefits. These are an excellent plant-based protein that provides the body with beneficial antioxidants, Vitamin E, fiber, and essential fatty acids. These acids often referred to as omega 3 and omega 6; good fats that can increase HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol in the blood. Some nuts are often avoided because of their high caloric value; however, when consumed as a substitute for snacks high in saturated fats diet benefits are noticed. Eating one to two ounces per day is a simple way to meet your needs without going too far ..
The Federal Drug Administration has recognized seven kinds of nuts and three types of seeds to be the most heart healthy. Eating these types of nuts and seeds can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed as part of a low-cholesterol and low-fat diet. The ones that meet the FDA's approval for heart health claims are walnuts, almonds, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and some varieties of pine nuts. Seeds included in this list are flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Additionally, consuming these in the raw form as part of a healthy diet can result in greater immune system response, increased energy and mental alertness, and a reduced risk for certain diseases and cancers.
Nuts and seeds are most nutritionally effective when consumed raw. Items that are roasted have undergone a high-heat process that can reduce their nutritional value. The best approach is to purchase them with their shells intact. Proper storage in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place, is necessary to prevent them from becoming rancid. When purchased whole, they can be sheled and ground and added to recipes. A coffee grinder can be used to grind seeds and nuts as needed.
There are many theories on how to get the most nutrients from nuts and seeds. One idea is to soak them before eating them to neutralize their enzyme inhibitors. These enzyme inhibitors reduce the body's ability to digest the nut's beneficial proteins completely. The best way to soak nuts is to place them in a glass or ceramic bowl; avoid plastic dishes. Next, cover the nuts with filtered water and cover with a towel or lid. Allow to soak based on the following guidelines: almonds, 8-12 hours, pecans, 4-6 hours, walnuts, 4 hours, cashews, 2 hours, and flax, pumpkin, and sesame seeds, 8 hours. Macadamia, pine, and pistachio nuts do not require soaking. After, soaking the nuts rinse and dry thoroughly. Soaked nuts can be stored in the freezer.
Choosing the type of nuts or seeds to integrate into a healthy diet is based on personal preference. In order to make sure the freshest and highest quality raw nuts and seeds are purchased, visit a raw food store for optimal selection and tips for making the right choice based on individual needs.