Everyone loves a handful of almonds to much on here and there, but are we really getting the nutrients that they have to offer? and are we eating them in the right amounts? Do you ever wonder if Nuts are Good for you?
Nuts and seeds are hard to digest for a lot of people. You might have heard about phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors in nuts and seeds. I have also talked about it in my recipe for Sesame Milk. Those compounds are the energy for the growth of the future plant if the seeds get planted; they are not harmful in themselves, but when consumed they can bind precious minerals like calcium, magnesium, cooper, and zinc in our digestive tract, impeding their absorption. The enzyme inhibitors neutralize our own enzymes, making digestion even more difficult, and other nutrients in nuts and seeds like essential fatty acids might also be less accessible for the body.
All that said, should we even eat them? Well, it all depends on the level of health of your digestive system. We know that nuts and seeds are hard to break down and be absorbed by our body, and that they can “rob” us from some minerals, specially in a digestive system that is not working at its best, which has been my case for a number of years.
In people with strong digestive systems, who also consume a wholesome diet, with a variety of whole foods, nuts and seeds might not cause any problems when eating moderately, because those people get enough of the minerals from other sources, and their digestive system allow for those foods to travel in the digestive system without any complications. However, they might still not be getting most of the nutrients that these foods have to offer.
On the other hand, when it comes to people with compromised digestion, nuts and seeds can be very problematic specially if we don’t prepare them properly. In some cases, like with people who suffer from Crohn’s or Some types of Colitis it is best to stir clear of these foods until the condition has improved.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce the negative effects of Phytic Acid, and enzyme inhibitors, and to access more nutrients from nuts and seeds, because they do offer very valuable ones!
Sprouting and Soaking are two common ways to improve digestibility and bio-availability of nutrients in nuts and seeds. Sprouting is probably the best, but it requires a bit more dedication and time. Soaking is like a short-cut to sprouting. By soaking we can neutralize enzyme-inhibitors and increase the amount of nutrients that our body can access.
In my opinion, I think it is worthwhile to do this extra steps with nuts and seeds specially if you have any sort of digestive issue, and you enjoy eating these foods. I personally had to eliminate them from my diet for a while until I got to a certain level of healing. If you are familiar with colitis you might understand why.
My favorite way to eat Almonds for example is soaked with sea salt. The procedure is the following:
- Put nuts in a mason jar and cover with water completely. Add 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for every two cups of water, or just add 2 tbsp of sea salt for every two cups of water.
- Let soak for 12 hours or overnight.
- The next morning, rinse them thoroughly and discard all the water used for soaking and rinsing.
- I then dry the excess water with paper towel and toss them in some sea salt. This way they can be kept in the fridge for about 4 days. They make a great snack paired with your favorite fruit. You can also freeze them after soaking, and thaw them as needed.
- Alternatively, you can dehydrate them or roast them at low temperature (170F) for several hours. This way they will last a lot longer without having to freeze them.
But how much nuts and seeds should we eat?
To answer this, I often ask myself, how accessible to us are these foods in nature? If we were to find nuts in the wild, how many would we be able to eat? Probably just a few, if we were lucky enough to be able to open their hard shells. Would you agree?
I do think that mother nature provided us with nuts and seeds to add to our nutrition, and they do contain a lot of nutrients, but if we think about how hard it is to actually access these foods from they natural state, we might realize that only a few would suffice.
Technology has made a lot of foods accessible to us in large quantities, and with minimal effort sometimes, but I think this isn’t always in our best interest. Some diets that restrict grains, promote the use of nut flours for pancakes, waffles, and baking for example, and that is probably fine if we eat those treats occasionally, but if they are part of our daily diet we might be at risk of creating nutrient imbalances. The oils in nuts and seeds are delicate and once they have been ground those oils are prone to oxidation, which makes them toxic to a degree for our cells.
At the end of the day we are all different in the way our bodies respond to certain foods, and my best advice to you is to eat the foods that your body feels the best with, and prepare them in a way that maximizes nutrients.
Let us know what you think below. Do nuts cause you any health troubles?
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