Focus On Health With Dr. Janie Unruh, PhD

Raw nuts: A true super hero

Once deemed as unhealthful because of their fat and caloric content, raw nuts are now considered a super food for the heart.

Little was known about the health benefits of nuts on a large scale until 1992, when the first large prospective study was published out of Loma Linda University, showing the analysis of over 31,000 Seventh-day Adventist research subjects over a six year period. “Subjects who consumed nuts frequently (more than four times a week) experienced substantially fewer definite fatal coronary heart disease events and definite nonfatal myocardial infarctions [heart attacks] when compared with those who consumed nuts less than once per week.”

Since this research took the world by storm many more research articles using different research groups, including the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, have peppered major medical journals validating their heart health properties many times over.

Nut research shows one to two ounces of raw nuts per day reduced cholesterol and risk from all-cause mortality, ischemic heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Men who eat more nuts have an expected 7.8 more years of life over those who don’t eat nuts, and women are expected to gain 5.1 more years.

As you increase your nut consumption, be sure to reduce caloric intake equally from less healthy foods to not gain weight.

Nuts are a great replacement for animal products. Nuts have an impressive nutrient panel containing calcium, zinc, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, fiber, and the best natural source of the antioxidant vitamin E, with smaller amounts of vitamin A, C, B-complex, and carbohydrates, with zero cholesterol and trans fats, and low saturated fats.

In general, they contain about 10 percent protein, 10 percent carbohydrates, and 70+ percent fat, which is mostly the heart healthy, monounsaturated type; and when coupled with fiber and loaded with nutrients, they are a powerhouse for good heart health.

Walnuts have an impressive 2.6 grams of heart healthy omega-3 per ounce.

All nuts have an enzyme inhibitor making them a challenge to digest. The best way to remove the enzyme inhibitor is to soak the raw nuts for approximately eight hours. From here, they can be used in a recipe and stored for up to three days in the fridge, or fully dehydrated for longer storage stability. I soak eight cups at a time and dehydrate at 105°F for two-three days until dried throughout, then store them in a glass jar for months as I slowly use them up.

Use nuts in recipes to make nut-based products such as burgers, casseroles, and loafs; make granola or other cereals, or create a sandwich spread. Other ideas are to grind them fresh into nut butters, or to whiz 1/3 C nuts (I prefer cashews) in your high powered blender with 4 C water, 4 medjool dates and 1/2 tsp vanilla until very smooth for a delicious milky beverage.

Eat more raw nuts and your heart will love you.

Fun fact to know about nuts: the bible refers to “nuts and almonds” as “one of the best fruits in the land.” Genesis 43:11.

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