Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 5, 2010

Vegan Pantry, Part 8: Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are amazing. They contain more B vitamins, trace minerals and essential fatty acids by weight than you might believe possible. They’re versatile too, popular in both sweet and savory foods–as well as being found in standards at every possible meal or snack throughout the day.

If you’re not getting your nuts and seeds, whatever your dietary restrictions, you may be in danger of deficiencies in your nutritional profile. Got nuts? Got seeds? If not, go get them. And store them in the fridge or freezer. Keep these puppies fresh, so that their oils don’t radicalize into carcinogenic precursors. If you suspect you have rancid nuts or seeds, throw them out–whatever they may have cost.

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds: The vitamin E alone is worth the price of admission, never mind how tasty they are. And their monounsaturated fat content rivals that of olive oil. Other trace minerals round out their impressive nutritional content. A small handful between meals will keep you going, and drop your risk of heart disease at the same time.

Brazil nuts: They’re a bit like macadamias, nuts but not as healthful as most of their cousins. Still, their manganese, folate and copper values are strong as are their monounsaturated fat levels. Use them judiciously (they’re a great component in homemade veggie burgers).

Cashews: Their high copper content helps to use iron in the body, builds strong bones, skin and hair and generally improves tone. Their monounsaturated fats are at a stronger level than in olive oil. They’re also lower in fat in general than most other nuts. One in sixteen persons of European descent is allergic to these, so go carefully if you don’t usually use them (they’re close relatives of poison ivy and like many New World foods, Euro-types may not be well adapted to processing them through the body).

Flaxseeds: Omega-3s and fiber to beat the band. Right here. Their little shells are hard to digest whole, so give them a whirl in your spice grinder to get the most from every precious tablespoonful.

Hazelnuts (Filberts): High in monounsaturated fats, manganese, copper, vitamin E and Riboflavin (and other trace minerals as well), these are tasty as well as being full of phenols. Their shells contain a key phytonutrient which may be the foundation of future cancer treatment initiatives.

Peanuts: Manganese, folate, tryptophan and more–get your peanuts and be proud. They aren’t really nuts, but they look strange when they’re classified more correctly with legumes.

Pecans: Thiamin, copper and manganese content may not make up for the saturated fats in this North American native. But if they’re used carefully, they’re as enjoyable as they are useful in their collateral antioxidant benefits.

Pumpkin Seeds: Zinc! Iron! Magnesium! Vitamin K! Support your immune system, your prostate, your colon. Eat more pumpkin seeds. But source them carefully. Even the ‘organic’ ones in your natural foods store are likely to have come out of box originating in China.

Sesame seeds: Buy these ‘hulled’ in natural food stores. They’ll be a grayish brown instead of a pearly cream color. That’s the fiber and calcium on the hulls, and you want it in your diet. Trace minerals abound in these little guys, and the fiber in 2 TBSP is more than 10% of your DV.

Sunflower seeds: so much Vitamin B and E in every handful, it’s almost ridiculous. Their selenium and folate are nothing to sneeze at either. All those hippies weren’t wrong. Grind some up and add them to your bean-based sandwich spread for an extra dose of everything good and good for you.

Walnuts: Go eat some walnuts. Right now. Their Omega-3s are off the hook. And they’re great natural fighters on the hypertension front, as well as the heart health patrol. Really. This is the pure, uncut, save-your-life-in-a-snack food. Eat some every week. You just can’t go wrong here, so don’t delay.

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Responses

  1. I’m allergic to all nuts and many seeds, unfortunately, so it’s hard for me to get Omega-3s and other nutrients through those food sources, which is one reason why I can’t imagine being vegan most of the time. This is such fun info, though – I want to pass it on to my veg friends who aren’t vegan, but who might want to eat this way more often.

    • I totally hear what you’re saying. I kind of believe that one ought not try to eat vegan if one is nut and seed allergic–it’s literally dangerous.


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