Nuts and seeds are concentrated sources of protein, fats, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium and other minerals. Some of them contain omega 3 fatty acids and as such can help to improve the balance of cholesterol and the blood lipid profile and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Some people have difficulty digesting nuts and seeds and in this case, soaking them overnight initiates the sprouting process and improves digestibility. They are best consumed in limited amounts of weight loss is desired or if digestive difficulties are present, however in these situations the nuts and seeds rich in omega 3 fatty acids (flaxseed, walnut, chia and pumpkin seed) may be beneficial as these fats can actually improve metabolism.
- Almonds are very high in minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron and are the only nut that is alkaline forming in the body. According to Ayurvedic medicine, almonds nourish the vital energy of the body. Almonds are also thought to contain a compound that is anti-carcinogenic and for this purpose it is recommended that six almonds are consumed daily.
- Brazil nuts are rich in the sulfur containing amino acids and selenium. Selenium has an important function as an antioxidant and is involved in immunity.
- Flaxseeds are the richest source of omega 3 fatty acids and thus help to improve immunity and reduce high cholesterol. When taken in the form of flaxseed meal they effectively prevent constipation and are a source of lignans – compounds that have antitumour and antioxidant properties. Flaxseeds also help to balance estrogen levels.
- Hazelnuts are very rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, folic acid and vitamin E. Hazelnuts act as a general tonic and strengthen the stomach.
- Macadamia nuts are very high in fat and can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess. However in moderation they can help to improve the balance of cholesterol due to their abundance of monounsaturated fats. They are also very low in carbohydrates and as such are suitable for low carb diets.
- Pistachio nuts are considered a tonic for the whole body in Ayurvedic medicine. They purify the blood, lubricate the intestines and can be used for constipation.
- Pumpkin seeds are known for their effects against intestinal parasites especially roundworm and tapeworm. Their high zinc content may explain the value pumpkin seeds for the treatment of impotence and prostate enlargement. Pumpkin seeds are also a valuable source of omega 3 fatty acids.
- Sesame seeds are very high in calcium and are a good source of magnesium, niacin, vitamins A and E, protein and unsaturated fats. In the form of tahini (sesame seed paste) they provide the richest and most bioavailable source of calcium.
- Sunflower seeds are high in protein, unsaturated fats, phosphorus, calcium, iron, fluorine, iodine, potassium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin E and are one of the rare plant sources of vitamin D.
- Walnuts are high in protein, iron and contain omega 3 fatty acids. They can reduce inflammation and pain, lubricate the lungs and intestines, and nourish the brain and adrenal glands.
- Peanuts are officially a legume but share many characteristics with other nuts. They are rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, protein and monounsaturated fats. These healthy fats found in peanuts can help to improve blood cholesterol balance. Peanuts can potentially exacerbate gall bladder conditions and may reduce the metabolic rate and as such peanuts are best avoided if weight loss is desired.
Recent evidence suggests that peanuts contain a compound that may provide protection against stomach, colon and breast cancers.
Caution: Due to the severe imbalance epidemic of omega 3 to omega 6 essential fatty acids, the most recommended seeds for moderate consumption are flax seeds and chia seeds which are both excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Although other seeds provide many health benefits, most of them also contain high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids. Research shows that the imbalance of omega 3 fatty acids to omega 6 fatty acids is a major contributing factor to the development of many illnesses and conditions. See Essential Fatty Acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6