Integrative Nutrition Blog

A Health Nut’s Guide to… Nuts

June 29, 2015

During the low-fat craze of the late 80s and early 90s, nuts were villainized in popular culture as being a cause of obesity and heart disease. 

Nuts are high in calories which is a big reason a lot of people fear them, but guess what? Counting calories is no longer effective. We now know that it’s all about quality over quantity and the calories in nuts come from high-quality fat that is crucial for all organs to function properly, especially the brain. If you want to maintain sharp focus on energy, eat your nuts. 

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses that offer tons of incredible health benefits. Unless you have a nut allergy, there’s no reason to not enjoy them as part of a balanced diet! 

Ready to learn how to maximize your health through conscious, delicious nut choices? What will it be, raw, roasted, or soaked? In pesto, a sweet spread, or straight up? Read on to learn about our favorite nuts and how you can enjoy them.   

Almonds. Almonds are one of the most popular healthy snacks around the IIN office, and for good reason. Studies have proven that they lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and protect heart health.

They’re also high in magnesium, which improves digestion and circulation. Almonds are a true superfood – the benefits discussed here are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Our favorite way to enjoy almonds is in the form of creamy, rich almond milk. To make your own, simply soak your almonds in filtered water on the countertop overnight, discard the soaking water, and blend with fresh water. Pass mixture through a nut milk bag and enjoy. 

Brazil Nuts. These creamy nuts were feared for a long time because of their super-high fat content (even higher than most nuts). Now they’re regarded as one of the healthiest nuts for just that reason.

As we move away from the age of modern nutrition and the low-fat craze, people acknowledge the truth that fat is crucial for optimal health and that sugar-filled, low-fat products are the most detrimental things you can put in your body. 

We love raw Brazil nuts paired with blueberries – the combination is delicious and boasts tons of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. 

Cashews. Cashews are a popular choice for their delicious flavor and creamy texture. Something special about cashews is that they boast an incredibly high level of copper, a mineral essential for brain, heart, liver, kidney, and muscular function. 

We love adding cashews to vegetable stir-fries seasoned with tamari and chili sauce. The combination of Asian flavors and rich, nutty cashews is incredible. 

Hazelnuts. Hazelnuts contain very high folate levels, great for reducing the risk of depression and heart disease. They also provide a lot of fiber, great for digestion.

You might automatically associate hazelnuts with a certain iconic chocolate-hazelnut spread, and if so, I have good news for you: There’s a healthy version! Simply throw hazelnuts, raw cocao powder, vanilla, pure maple syrup, coconut oil, a little salt, and your favorite non-dairy milk into a high-speed blender or food processor, whirl away until creamy, and enjoy! 

Macadamia Nuts. Very popular in Australia, macadamia nuts are full of minerals and healthy fats. They have a natural, mild, sweet flavor and make a wonderfully-rich, brain-boosting milk. 

Rich in vitamin B-complex, macadamias greatly support the adrenals and nervous system, counteracting the effects of stress and anxiety. Try using macadamia milk in your next homemade latte and enjoy the slighty-sweet creaminess. 

Pistachios. Pistachios are an amazing source of plant-based protein, great for stabilizing blood sugar and reducing the risk of adult onset diabetes, also known as type 2 diabetes. They also support skin health and rid the body of harmful free radicals. 

Make a delicious pistachio pesto by blending a few leaves of kale with pistachios, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Use as a sauce on vegetables or toss with your favorite pasta or pasta substitute, like zucchini noodles.

Walnuts. A secret about walnuts is that you want to eat the skin – it contains 90% of the phenols, known to prevent cancer with its rich amount of antioxidants. 

We love using walnuts as a gluten-free crust for fish or chicken. Simply coat your protein in ground walnuts, bake or sear in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and your favorite herbs. Enjoy! 

There are so many health benefits in all the nuts available to us, and so many ways to enjoy them. So what’s the healthiest prep method for nuts?

Raw, soaked, or dry-roasted are the healthiest ways to prepare nuts. 

When you know where your nuts come from, how they’re prepared, and the specific benefits different types boast, you’ll be able to make educated decisions to fuel your unique body. 

Warning: Nuts can easily become rancid and moldy, leading to excess candida in the body and all the challenges that go along with that. 

It’s best to store them in the freezer to keep them fresh. Roasting them in oil also makes them go rancid more quickly, and obviously, adding any unhealthy or trans fat in the preparation process turns them from superfood to bad guy. 

Please note: Nuts contain phytic acid, which removes important minerals from the body and inhibits digestion. Not cool. The good news? Simply soak your nuts for 8-12 hours and it’s gone. 

What’s your favorite way to enjoy nuts? Did you learn something new in this article? Share in the comments below – we can’t wait to hear from you. Get social! Share this with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

Joshua Rosenthal, Founder, Director, and Primary Teacher of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares his wisdom about creating a healthy and happy life that helps transform the world.

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