Nuts and seeds in my pantry.
November 9th 2013
One day my son said, “That’s pretty awesome.” “Awesome?” “Yes, and unusual.” he said, “how many people do you think have a shelf devoted to nuts and seeds in their kitchen? No one I know.” I thought about it for a moment to let ‘awesome’ and ‘unusual’ sink in. My journey from the typical Jewish fare: bagels, cream cheese, lox, (you have the idea) to a more healthy one has been gradual and taken years of conscious effort daily. After all, I should practice what I preach, right?
If you go to my COR living, healthy eating page, http://torontohomeopath.ca/healthy-recipes , you will see what I tend to eat when I am in control. I am not a fanatic, and if given no choice I will succumb to what is available at the given moment. But, I can tell you this – my digestive system will definitely call me out if when I eat something the other side of good. My experience has been that as you refine your eating habits to more raw and natural your digestive tract becomes more sensitive and discerning.
So, what’s on this shelf in my pantry?
Whole roasted almonds, slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, hemp hearts, flax seeds, pepita seeds, sunflower seeds, and raisins. I like to eat them in combination as a snack, or throw them over a salad, or on plain yogurt with some fruit.
Nutritional Values according to Wikipedia
The almond contains about 26% carbohydrates (12% dietary fiber, 6.3% sugars, 0.7% starch and the rest miscellaneous carbohydrates), and may therefore be made into flour for cakes and cookies (biscuits) for low-carbohydrate diets. A standard serving of almond flour, 1 cup, contains 20 grams of carbohydrates, of which 10 g is dietary fiber, for a net of 10 g of carbohydrate per cup. This makes almond flour very desirable for use in cake and bread recipes by people on carbohydrate-restricted diets.
Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, containing 26 mg per 100 g (Table). About 20 percent of raw almond is high quality protein, a third of which are essential amino acids. An ounce of almonds contains 12% of necessary daily protein. They are also rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins, essential minerals and monounsaturated fat (see nutrient table), one of the two fats which potentially may lower LDL cholesterol. Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols, associated with cholesterol-lowering properties.
Pecans are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats. Like walnuts (which pecans resemble), pecans are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, although pecans contain about half as much omega-6 as walnuts.
A diet rich in seeds can lower the risk of gallstones in women. The antioxidants and plant sterols found in pecans reduce high cholesterol by reducing the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
Clinical research published in the Journal of Nutrition (September 2001) found that eating about a handful of pecans each day may help lower cholesterol levels similar to what is often seen with cholesterol-lowering medications. Research conducted at the University of Georgia has also confirmed that pecans contain plant sterols, which are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability. Pecans may also play a role in neurological health. Eating pecans daily may delay age-related muscle nerve degeneration, according to a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts and published in Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research.
Walnuts are a nutrient-dense food: 100 grams of walnuts contain 15.2 grams of protein, 65.2 grams of fat, and 6.7 grams of dietary fiber. The protein in walnuts provides many essential amino acids.
Expect many long-term health benefits. Because HEMP HEARTS™ (shelled hemp seeds) is one of the best balanced sources of Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, because HEMP HEARTS™ (shelled hemp seeds) contains only small amounts of saturated and mono-unsaturated fats which can be easily converted to energy, and because HEMP HEARTS™ (shelled hemp seeds) is also an unsurpassed source of the whole spectrum of required proteins, it promotes vigorous cellular development with diverse health benefits.
Flax seeds contain high levels of dietary fiber as well as lignans, an abundance of micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids (table). Studies have shown that flax seeds may lower cholesterol levels, although with differing results in terms of gender. One study found results were better for women  whereas a later study found benefits only for men. Initial studies suggest that flax seeds taken in the diet may benefit individuals with certain types of breast and prostate cancers. A study done at Duke University suggests that flaxseed may stunt the growth of prostate tumors, although a meta-analysis found the evidence on this point to be inconclusive. Flax may also lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels. There is some support for the use of flax seed as a laxative due to its dietary fiber content though excessive consumption without liquid can result in intestinal blockage. Consuming large amounts of flax seed may impair the effectiveness of certain oral medications, due to its fiber content, and may have adverse effects due to its content of neurotoxic cyanogen glycosides and immunosuppressive cyclic nonapeptides.
One of the main components of flax is lignan, which has plant estrogen as well as antioxidants (flax contains up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods contain).
The seeds are also good sources of protein, as well as iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and potassium. 25 grams of pepitas can provide over 20 percent of the recommended daily iron intake. Furthermore, just one-fourth cup of pepitas provides approximately 185 mg of magnesium, nearly 50% of the Recommended Daily Intake.
In addition to providing linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, some amino acids (especially tryptophan), vitamin E, several B vitamins (especially thiamine, pantothenic acid, and folic acid). Additionally, they are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. Furthermore, sunflower seeds boast a low glycemic index as well as high levels of protein and minerals including magnesium and copper.
Raisins range from about 67% to 72% sugars by weight, most of which is fructose and glucose. They also contain about 3% protein and 3.7%-6.8% dietary fiber. Raisins, like prunes and apricots, are also high in certain antioxidants, but have a lower vitamin C content than fresh grapes. Raisins are low in sodium and contain no cholesterol.
New data suggest that, among individuals with mild increases in blood pressure, the routine consumption of raisins (three times a day) may significantly lower blood pressure, especially when compared to eating other common snacks, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 61st Annual Scientific Session.