Nuts and seeds are super healthy and a great natural source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fiber. The “healthiest nut” is the one with the nutrients your body needs most on a given day. Of course no one knows which one that is. So the best strategy is to eat a variety.
Here are the top healthiest nuts:
Almonds have as much calcium as milk, and contain magnesium, vitamin E, selenium and lots of fiber. They can lower cholesterol and help prevent cancer.
Walnuts are extremely good for your heart and brain, and contain ellagic acid a cancer-fighting antioxidant.
Pecans have tons of vitamins and minerals like Vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, B vitamins, and zinc. And they help lower cholesterol.
Brazil Nuts are a good source of protein, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E, and a great source of selenium.
Cedar Nuts/Pine Nuts have Vitamins A, B, D, E, P and contain 70% of your body’s required amino acids.
Cashews are rich in minerals like copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and biotin. They are actually a low-fat nut, and like olive oil, they have a high concentration of oleic acid, which is good for the ticker (your heart). According to Dr. Andrew Saul, one big handful of cashews provides one to two thousand milligrams of tryptophan, which will work as well as prescription antidepressant Prozac.
Note: Cashews are not recommended for cancer patients due to potential levels of fungus
Here are the top healthiest seeds:
Flax seeds are definitely the best source of omega-3s (better than fish oil) and Lignans, super anti-oxidants that help fight cancer. They also contains a lot of fiber and can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Chia Seeds are incredibly healthy seeds rich in omega-3 oils, protein, anti-oxidants, calcium, and fiber. Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!
Hemp seeds are a certified superfood with cancer and heart disease prevention properties. They are high in protein and fiber, with balanced omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Sunflower seeds also help prevent heart disease and cancer with phytochemicals, folate, Vitamin E, selenium and copper.
Pumpkin Seeds are great for your immune system with lots of antioxidants (carotenoids), omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.
Sesame Seeds are a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, B1 and phosphorus. They can lower blood pressure, and protect against liver damage. Sesame seeds have also been linked to prevention of many diseases like arthritis, asthma, migraine headaches, menopause, osteoporosis, and may even reduce PMS symptoms.
The one nut I don’t really eat much is the peanut, which is technically a bean.
Peanuts can contain a carcinogenic mold called aflatoxin, and they are notorious for being one of the most pesticide-contaminated crops.
Instead of peanut butter, I prefer to eat organic nut butters like almond Butter, sunflower seed butter and walnut butter.
Note: Buy “Raw Organic“. That’s super important. Don’t buy the fried, salted, roasted, honey-glazed, candied, or any other “special flavor” nuts. Frying and roasting nuts converts the fats into an unhealthy form, and most seasonings are made from artificial flavors, chemicals, and preservatives,contain MSG, and are high in sodium.
If you want to maximize the nutrients you get from nuts, soak them in distilled or purified water overnight. This helps neutralize enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid both of which may affect digestion and absorption of the nutrients in seeds and nuts. It can also help reduce the amount of pesticides on them if they are not organically grown.
Simple Soaking Directions: Place 4 cups of nuts in a bowl with enough distilled water to cover the nuts completely. Add a tablespoon of celtic sea salt. This helps the neutralize enzyme inhibitors. Different seeds and nuts have different soaking times, but the easiest rule of thumb to remember is to let them soak 7 hours (overnight). You many or may not like the taste of soggy nuts, so you’ll need to dehydrate them in a dehydrator or oven for 12-24 hours. If you do it in the oven, keep the temperature under 150 degrees and shift them around on the pan occasionally. You don’t want to roast the nuts, just dry them out. Every oven is different so it might take some experimentation to get the ideal drying time figured out. And because this is essentially a 24 hour process it makes sense to do several big batches at a time. Afterward compare the flavor of the soaked and dried nuts versus the non-soaked nuts. You might be surprised to find they taste better, depending on the nut and your taste.
One exception: Cashews should soak 6 hours or less and need to dry out quickly at 200-250 degrees or they can get funky.