Nuts For Your Health



mixed nuts

mixed nuts

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© 2009  Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)


Nuts are another seasonal food that are healthy and delicious and have tons of health benefits.  Eat these several times a week for snacks and you will be certain to keep essential fats and nutrients in your diet.  Nuts are high in healthy fats and protein.  They also are rich in essential minerals and vitamins for good health.  Nuts help you from gaining weight and are very heart friendly.

I keep a handful on my desk for a quick snack and make a trail mix variety to keep in the vehicles for times when I’m off somewhere and haven’t had time to eat.   They make a great trail food when hiking. 

They are better for you plain, so don’t get the processed nuts that are salted or glazed.  Just get plain, and if you need them roasted just put them in the oven for a few minutes.  If you need them salted, use a good quality sea salt.

Nuts have been a staple food for many traditional cultures.  Nuts have been made into a flour, meal, butter, oil and even milk!  They are added to salads and stir fry dishes.  

Now is the time to stock up on them from the store.  Put them in glass jars with tight lids to keep them longer.  You can even freeze them.  Instead of cookies and candies for snacking, just pull out a handful of nuts.  Done consistently over time, you’ll realize that your body will crave this snack for quick protein and fat, and those processed snacks won’t taste the same again!  Eating healthy whole foods will change your whole body!

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Almonds—have been around for thousands of years.  They originated in western Asia and North Africa.  Romans and Greeks used almonds and they are referenced  in many historical and ancient texts.  Almonds are rich in manganese, vitamin E (one of the richest sources), magnesium and potassium.  The magnesium helps arteries and veins relax.  You know how you feel a rise in your blood sugar after eating a high-carb meal?  Well, almonds help prevent that by stabilizing blood sugar if eaten with your meal.

Cashews—originated on the coast of Brazil.  Portuguese explorers took cashew trees to India and Africa and today these are the places we get our cashews from.  Cashews are rich in copper, magnesium and phosphorus—good for your bones, muscles and nerves.

Peanuts—are not really a nut, but a legume.  Peanuts originated in South America and Mexico.  Explorers then took them to Africa where they became a sacred food and were brought with the slave trade to America. Today we enjoy them at baseball games, the circus and for the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Peanuts are rich in manganese, tryptophan and vitamin B3. 

Walnuts—come from an ornamental tree and the walnut kernel looks like an abstract butterfly.  Man has used walnuts for thousands of years.  The English walnut originated in India and the Black walnut in North America.  Native American Indians and colonists relied on walnuts as a source of food.  Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, manganese and copper.  Walnuts are also high in l-arginine which is essential for regulating blood pressure. 

Pecans—are native to North America.  Pecans were an important source of food for Native Americans.  George Washington kept pecans in his pocket and Thomas Jefferson cultivated them.  Pecans are in the top category of foods that contain the most antioxidants and contain more than 19 minerals and vitamins!

Brazil nuts—come from those huge trees in the Amazon.  These trees grow to 150 feet high, are 8 feet in diameter and live about 500 years.  Branches only grow at the top third of the tree and provide a canopy of about 100 feet over the forest.  At the end of these branches grows a yellow orchid that produces the Brazil nuts.  These nuts are rich in selenium, magnesium, copper and B vitamins.  Eating 1 Brazil nut a day will provide you with an excellent level of selenium to boost the immune system.

Pistachio—is one of the oldest nuts on earth that is edible.  Pistachios are the only nut that does not need to be shelled before eating!  They originated from Iran, Syria and Greece.  They are rich in more than 30 different vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients!  They are high in copper, manganese and vitamin B6.

Macadamia nuts—are native to Australia.  They were named after John McAdam, a Scottish chemist who first cultivated them.  Macadamias are one of the most expensive nuts.  Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii produce macadamias today. They are rich in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, the B vitamins and vitamin E.

Hazelnuts—originated in Asia.  They are also called filberts and cobnuts.  Turkey, Spain, Italy and the United States produce hazelnuts today.  Hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E, magnesium and the B vitamins.  Hazelnuts are another superfood full of antioxidants. 

Chestnuts—were a staple food in the Mediterranean area where cereal crops could not be grown.  They have sustained large numbers of people over long time periods with their nutritional content.  They are the only nut with a significant amount of vitamin C.  They are also rich in B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and copper. 


Crispy Pecans Recipe

Sally Fallon (“Nourishing Traditions”) advises to soak the nuts and then dry in an oven to counter the enzyme inhibitors in them.  (Similar to soaking grains/beans…)  Here’s how she does that:

4 cups pecan halves
2 teaspoons sea salt
Mix together and let set overnight.  Drain in a colander and then spread on a baking sheet.  Place in a warm oven not more than 150°  12 -24 hours.  Stir occasionally until crisp and dry.

Holiday Pecans Recipe

4 cups crispy pecan halves
3 egg whites
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff.  Then beat in the syrup and vanilla slowly.  Fold in the pecans until well coated and spread on baking pans .  Place in warm oven –no more than 150°–until the egg white coating hardens, this will take several hours.



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