Health Hack #40: Nuts about Nuts

So many puns about nuts that I could share, but I’ll refrain 😊

One thing I continue to come across in my discoveries about food-as-medicine, is the incredible power of nuts in our diets. Every natural health practitioner boosts about the healing benefits of nuts – from Omegas to ‘good fats’ and everything in between. But it dawned on me – that many may not realize that all nuts are not created equal. And there are actually a few that can work against you, not necessarily with you!

Here are the shining stars of the nut family:

  • Almonds – ‘bare’ or Marconi style almonds are best which have the skin removed, alleviating any inflammatory lectins. Almonds are bone-builders, packed with vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. Plus, almond flour makes for an easy pantry swap to get those white flours out of there! Almonds are versatile and organic almond butter is so delicious, and a great option to peanut butter.
  • Brazil Nuts – just 2x/day (~200mg) can boost your Selenium levels to optimal levels. Low selenium is associated with an increased risk of all cancers. Selenium is needed for the activity of glutathione peroxidase, our main antioxidant enzyme that protects us from inflammation-derived cancer. Brazil nuts are the best source, especially during chemo when selenium levels dip.
  • Pistachios – high in fiber and unsaturated fat that can help lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. They are also packed with potassium and help support a healthy cardiovascular system. This Vegan Halva with pistachio recipe is my go-to way to enjoy them.
  • Walnuts – packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These can also be found in wild caught salmon and cold-pressed olive oil, but walnuts and chia seeds are the best nut/seed options. Walnuts offer a simply way to counteract oxidative stress, and those stemming from inflammatory ‘bad’ fats (like anything from a vegetable oil, canola, soy or the related – blah!). Walnuts help protect blood vessels and boost inhibitors tied to cancer metastasis and angiogenesis.
  • Pecans – high in zinc (as our pumpkin seeds). Zinc is a super star of immune function and critical for the function of neutrophils (one type of white blood cells). Zinc improves thymus function and can restore immune function. Animal sources are the best source for Zinc, but pecans are a must-have ketogenic diet friendly source

*And…don’t forget to always buy organic nuts! Source matters. And soaking nuts overnight can help reduce their phytic acid content. You can invest in a dehydrator or use an oven at 200 degrees for 10-12 hours to re-dry them before eating. It’s worth the extra effort, trust me!

And here are a few to avoid!

  • Peanuts – are actually a type of legume, and not a nut at all. This introduces a slew of inflammatory responses in the body, many of which have been debated. I’m not here to ask you to give up your childhood favorite, but I want you to know that options do exist. Read more about the great peanut debate here
  • Cashews – what do cashews and poison ivy have in common? A chemical called urushiol. We often see ‘raw’ cashews sold in stores but really they have been boiled to remove the urushiol. Cashews are safe to eat, but have been linked to high levels of inflammation in some individuals. Best to avoid or consume in moderation.

In case you’re wondering, my favorite place to buy nuts is online via Thrive Market. You can filter by organic nuts and get great deals.

 

*information directly sourced from The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Nasha Winters