By Nancy Melhert, MS
We are always encouraging you to include a variety of nuts and seeds in your diet. It’s because they are deeply nutritious sources of fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – all packed into convenient little packages. However, there can be pitfalls when it comes to making your selections, so here are a few tips to making the best choices!
How Much to Eat:
Nuts and seeds have considerable Omega 6 fats, which can be inflammatory. And though it is important to get Omega 6 fats, it is mission critical that they be properly balanced with Omega 3 fats (anti-inflammatory). The truth is, we need very little Omega 6 fats in our diet, yet the Standard American Diet has an abundance of Omega 6 fats in it. And the important anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats are harder to find in foods and more difficult to get adequate amounts in the diet. As a result, you will want to make ideal choices (see below) and then carefully limit your overall intake of them to a few ounces a day for nuts, and a few tablespoons a day for seeds.
How To Buy Them:
First of all, choose nuts that are organic, raw and not irradiated, roasted in oil, pasteurized, or coated in sugar or flavorings. Organic nuts and seeds are also free of antimicrobials and pesticides. Nuts and seeds should smell fresh, not musty, stale or rancid. Old nuts can have mold and mycotoxins present on them, which are harmful to your liver. Roasted nuts are usually made at higher temperatures resulting in degradation of the Omega oils, damaging them. If you prefer roasted, roast them yourself at low temperatures, no more than 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven or on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes, which should minimize any heat-related damage.
Avoid eating the same nuts over and over and over. This can result in food sensitivities and food allergies. Besides, you need the wide variety of nutrition offered across the entire gamut of nuts. So, rotate them often, and when you rotate, be sure to rotate nut milks and nut flours as well. Try new nuts and broaden your palate by including such choices as Brazil nuts, Cacao Nibs, Hazelnuts and Hemp seeds.
From Best to Worst:
Ideal Choices: Black Sesame seeds, Chia seeds, Flax seeds (must be fresh, and please buy whole. You can grind them just prior to eating, and best to keep refrigerated) Pecans, Pumpkin seeds, Cacao Nibs, Coconuts,
Macadamia nuts (Toxic to dogs!! so don’t share with your furry friends) , psyllium seed husks and walnuts.
Good Choices: Almonds, Brazil nuts, Hazelnuts, Hemp seeds, Pine nuts and Pistachios
Limit: Nuts mixed with dried fruits, dry roasted nuts, cashews, peanuts and sunflower seeds
Avoid: All nuts roasted in oils of any kind, all nuts coated in sugar or other sweeteners, any nuts mixed with candy, and peanut butter with partially hydrogenated oil.
That’s it in a nutshell. Enjoy.