When speaking of Superfoods, nuts and seeds definitely shouldn’t be left out of the conversation! Whichever is your favorite, they’re all very versatile and a good source protein, vitamins and minerals and most importantly, in my opinion, an excellent source of fiber. Fiber acts like a ‘broom’ that sweeps waste through the digestive tract and helps to improve regularity, a very important process necessary for a healthy colon. Nuts and seeds can easily be incorporated into our diet through delicious recipes whether it be cooked , frozen or raw. Check out some simple ways to enjoy them in the cookbook, In a Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and seeds.
Some nuts have gotten a bad review, due to their high fat and high calorie content. It definitely doesn’t help their cause much when we honey roast them, dip them in chocolate or coat them in caramel! All of that deliciousness can sometimes be very tempting, but we must remember to resist being lured into overindulging in the temptation. Both nuts and seeds are great nutrient rich snacks and are best eaten in their natural unprocessed state.
- Chia seeds are the edible seeds derived from a flowering plant called the Salvia Hispanica, a plant in the mint family. They are a mainstay of many whole food plant based, vegan and health conscious lifestyles. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants. A few simple ways to add chia seeds to the diet includes, chia puddings, smoothies, stir fries and sprinkled over salads or cereals. What I like most about these seeds is that they are a whole grain that can be added to dishes without competing with other flavors in the dish.
2. Walnuts are technically seeds, however, they are another rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in helping to maintain the healthiness of the body’s cell structure. These fatty acids may help to reduce inflammation in the body, which also helps to protect the immune system. 1/4 cup of walnuts provides 2g of fiber which is 7% daily recommended value. They also provide calcium, iron, vitamin B6, Biotin and Potassium. Try them as a snack on the go or on top of a bed of spinach with cranberries.
3. Flaxseeds, yet another source of Omega-3 fatty acids, are perhaps best none for their dietary fiber. They work as a natural laxative by creating bulk and softening the stool. They also help to shorten the transit time through the intestine. When waste remains in the intestine too long, all types of ill effects can occur. This is why I absolutely love this seed and consume it daily. Try sprinkling it over cereal, using it in baking as an egg substitute (2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed), or in homemade granola. So many possibilities!
4. Roasted almonds are definitely one of my favorites, especially when paired with dark chocolate! The many nutrients in these little gems are very beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart. They help lower cholesterol, which is one of the main culprits in the heart disease epidemic. Almonds help fight against the formation of plaque in the arteries and help keep the arteries flexible. To add to these great benefits, almonds are lower in total fat and calories compared to walnuts and pecans, my favorite! They also have more calcium and potassium.
5. Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about pecans. As mentioned earlier, they are my all time favorites! I absolutely love their crunchy texture and buttery flavor, a great addition to many entrees, desserts, or snacks. Here in the southern region of the US, pecans are a traditional mainstay, especially, during the holidays. Even though we love them for their taste first, pecans are chock full of minerals and nutrients. They are rich in fiber, copper, thiamine and zinc, to name a few. Even though they have a lot going for them, there are a couple of caveats. They have more total fat and calories than most nuts, so be careful not to overindulge in all of their yumminess! I could go on and on about how divine pecans are to me, but I guess I shouldn’t bore you with my love affair with them! ☺️
The information shared here only scratches the surface when it comes to the healthy benefits of adding nuts and seeds to our diets. So many that it goes beyond the scope of this post. So go ahead and explore the world of nuts and seeds! While doing so, don’t forget to check out other varieties such as pistachios, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and much, much more.
Eat, Drink, Be Well…