Nuts and seeds are little packages of proteins, and are full of heart-friendly monounsaturated fat and oil soluble vitamins, and are a good source of fiber. Fresh raw nuts in their shells make the best snack food for two reasons. First, the oil will be fresh because of the natural protection of the outer shell. Secondly, cracking open the shell forces you to eat more slowly instead of handfuls of nuts that are improperly chewed and swallowed. You have time to mix this concentrated food with ample saliva, making it much easier on the digestive system. We eat food far too quickly and this is unhealthy, especially with highly concentrated foods. Chewing nuts slowly will help to eliminate the heaviness in the stomach. Mixing nuts with dried fruits increases their digestibility and the combinations of flavors are delicious.
It is easy to overeat this healthy treat. Learn to be content with small amounts, unless you are a serious bodybuilder or active. Snacking on the variety of raw nuts available to us is far more desirable than the average 4 to 6 billion dollars per year North Americans spend on snack foods. Raw nuts as a snack food is filling and satisfying, being slower to digest than fruits and vegetables. The high oil content wards off hunger pains for hours.
I recommend you eating raw nuts over roasted for two reasons. You are less likely to over-snack and you can be sure all the oils and nutrients are intact. Raw food lends itself well to a disciplined life. When nuts are roasted and salted, they become addictive. Yet, when the nuts are raw, a couple of handfuls are completely satisfying and can actually contribute to weight loss. Does roasting transform the fatty acids found in seeds and nuts? New research says no, the healthy fats stay intact. But since oils are extremely complex and there is so much yet to understand, I say better safe than sorry. Eating raw insures undamaged oils with no additives, and raw nuts and seeds have a longer shelf life.
Unshelled nuts should be purchased and stored in the refrigerator. There are many nut butters sold in health food stores but are completely useless because the nuts have been roasted, exposed to light, air and heat, the three culprits that transform essential oils. Besides, why not make your own nut butter fresh every day? It’s simple and easy.
Ensure all your nuts and seeds are raw. It is preferable to purchase nuts and seeds refrigerated and stored in plastic bags, as most good health stores do, but it is not imperative. I buy my almonds, flax and walnuts from the open bins of a bulk store due to their lower cost. There is a good turnover and also I can easily tell by the taste if a nut has gone south. There is a marked difference between the sweet, nutty taste of a fresh almond and the bitter tang of a grumpy old nut long past its shelf life. Once home, I store all our nuts and seeds in the door of the fridge for daily munching.
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