Are you nuts about nuts?
This article is dedicated to nut enthusiasts worldwide.
"You wanna get nuts?!? Let's get nuts!!"
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in "Batman" (1989)
For many millennia, our ancestors sought practical ways to transport snack foods for long journeys. Unfortunately, there were very few ways to do this without using man-made containers. Most travelers needed to minimize the weight of their cargo in order to make these treks. Our ancestors needed portable food that could be carried long distances and required little to no preparation.
Enter Nature's portable fast food: nuts. Shelled nuts addressed the problems associated with snacking while traveling. Nuts satisfying flavor, texture and portability satisfied all the needs of a traveler.
Even if you're not traveling, nuts high protein levels will keep you going strong. Plus, their healthy monounsaturated fats are good for your heart.
A few years ago, the FDA approved the following health claim for nut product labels: "Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of some nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
There are literally hundreds of nut varieties. I've put together a short list of some popular nuts with brief nutritional facts for your review.
1. Brazil Nuts
These nuts grow on large trees in the Amazon jungle called Brazil Nut Trees. These trees typically grow to over 150 feet in height. The nuts contain manganese, protein, potassium, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E and selenium. Selenium helps neutralize dangerous free radicals. Clinical studies have found that the high amounts of selenium in Brazil nuts may prevent breast and prostate cancer. These nuts have a tender texture and a mildly sweet flavor.
2. Black Walnuts
Black walnuts are native to North America. They offer various nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the heart, promote better cognitive function. They also provide anti-inflammatory benefits for psoriasis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and early-stage asthma. Researchers have isolated over a dozen polyphenols (A kind of chemical that theoretically may protect against some common health problems and possibly certain effects of aging) in walnuts. Most people describe the flavor as "mild and yet smokey with a residual background."
3. Hazelnuts (Filberts)
Hazelnuts are a highly nutritious source of magnesium, dietary fiber, E and B vitamins. Hazelnuts also contain phytonutrients such as arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, and may inhibit tumor growth and boost immunity. Their strong flavor and aromatic nature is a consistent favorite of chefs and coffee connoisseurs worldwide.
4. Pine Nuts
These are actually the seedlings of pine cones, not nuts, but they have a mild, nut-like flavor and provide excellent nutrition. Pine nuts also contain certain fatty acids that may initiate the release of an appetite-suppressing hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). Pine nuts are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and they're full of vitamins A, C and D. Chefs all over the world have used pine nuts as a core cooking ingredient for years. They are noted for their mild, nut-like flavor that does not overpower the food it is cooked with.
5. Macadamia Nuts
Most people are aware that macadamias are grown commercially in Hawaii but, many are unaware that they are actually native to Australia. These nuts are high in potassium, magnesium, protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fats. A scientific study found that people who added macadamia nuts to their diets for just one month had a total LDL (bad cholesterol) drop by up to ten points compared to those eating a traditional American diet. Macadamias taste similar to hazelnuts, but with a richer, more buttery flavor.
Chestnuts have been found to have the lowest fat of all nuts, and have a nutritional profile similar to brown rice. They can contain as much vitamin C as lemons, lots of fiber and about one-third the calories of peanuts and cashews. Chestnuts must be boiled or roasted before you eat them, and when you do this it brings out a sweet flavor, and their texture becomes similar to cooked potatoes.
These are just a handful of nuts available for your enjoyment.
Got some more nutty ideas to share ?
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