All About Nuts: Two Nuts and a Date

May 27, 2017

Let's talk about nuts and a date. They heal -- just watch.

 

Medjool Dates

 

These dates are notable for their delicious taste, their many health benefits, and the imaginative ways they can be included in recipes.

 

What is a Medjool date? Technically, it is a date grown from a particular date palm tree found in California, the Canary Islands, North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. The skin has a deep brown color with a firm, wrinkled texture. The inside of the date is moist with a meaty consistency and has a wonderful taste that has been compared to caramel.

 

The Medjool date can be eaten either fresh or dried. The drying of the dates increases their longevity and reduces their chances of premature spoiling. These dates differ significantly with regard to size. Although no industry standards have been established for Medjool date dimensions, they have been classified as “large,” “jumbo” or “super,” referring to both their length and circumference.

 

For health-conscious shoppers, take a look at these benefits!

  • Natural Energy Booster and Sweetener – Instead of more coffee, try Medjool dates! They are high in natural sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose which are easily digested and utilized efficiently for energy. Although they are as sweet as candy, they contain none of the refined sugar which can lead to diabetes.

  • Decrease Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels – Eating Medjool dates increases fiber intake which can substantially lower LDL, known as “bad cholesterol”, naturally. Triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, can increase the risk of heart disease when found in the body at elevated levels. One study found that consuming these dates reduced triglyceride levels by 8 percent.

  • Improve Bone Health – Medjool dates are high in both calcium (6.4 percent DV) and phosphorus (6.3 percent daily value or “DV’) which assists in keeping the body systems working properly and can help ward off osteoporosis.

  • Relieve Constipation – Most people do not consume enough fiber and these dates, containing 6.7 grams of fiber (26.8 percent DV) per one serving (100 grams) of dates, help the body maintain regularity.

Ready for some new recipes?

 

Once you get rid of the pit (easily removable with a knife or even your fingers), there are plenty of scrumptious ways you can enjoy Medjool dates. They can be added to energy drinks or stuffed with cheese.

 

Try making a date paste by soaking them in hot water until soft. Keep the soaking liquid and add one tablespoon of it to the soaked dates in your food processor. Blend until smooth and add more water as necessary to achieve a similar consistency to peanut butter. Add the paste to muffins and pies and include it in cake and cookie recipes to increase nutrients and reduce refined sugar.

 

Cashews

 

Is there anyone who doesn’t like cashews?  Yet, how many of you know about their origin, their important health benefits and the different ways they can be enjoyed?

Cashew nuts, found in the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil, are actually the kidney-shaped seeds that stick to the bottom of the cashew apple which is the fruit of the cashew tree. They are always put on the market shelled because the interior of the shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm. The balm must be thoroughly removed before the nuts are fit for eating.

 

Some people think of cashews as being one of the fattier nuts, but examine these health benefits:

  • Heart-Protective Monounsaturated Fats -- Cashews actually contain a lower fat content than most other nuts. Roughly 82 percent of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 66 percent of this unsaturated fatty acid content is monounsaturated fats which are healthy for the heart. Monounsaturated fat, when added to a low-fat diet, can also help to reduce high triglyceride levels. Nuts, with a high total antioxidant content, have many cardio-protective benefits. Check these combined statistics from four different studies: “subjects consuming nuts at least 4 times a week showed a 37 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never or seldom ate nuts. Each additional serving of nuts per week was associated with an average 8.3 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease”.

  • Copper – Copper, which in ¼ cup of cashews contains 98 percent DV, is involved in a wide assortment of physiological processes including iron utilization, the development of bone and connective tissue, the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin, and elimination of free radicals.

  • Magnesium – From the same ¼ cup of cashews, magnesium contains 29 percent DV. Magnesium is necessary for strong bones, helps regulate nerve and muscle tone, helps reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure, helps prevent heart attacks, reduces the severity of asthma, and promotes normal sleep patterns in women suffering from menopausal sleep disturbances.

  • Reduces Weight Gain – Although some people worry about nuts causing weight gain, a study by the journal Obesity shows such fears have no foundation. The 28-month study involving 8,865 adult men and women in Spain, found that participants who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight than participants who never or rarely ate nuts.

  • Assists in Preventing Gallstones – From a 20-year longitudinal study in which 80,000 women participated (Nurses’ Health Study), it was demonstrated that women who consumed at least one ounce of nuts, peanut butter or cashew butter each week have a 25 percent risk of developing gallstones.

But what are the different ways we can use cashews?  Take a look.

In addition to adding them to other nuts and dried fruits, you can:

  1. Roast cashews at home, but do so gradually—in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes—to preserve the healthy oils.

  2. Add cashews to healthy sautéed vegetables right before taking off the heat. Sauté the cashews with shrimp, basil and green beans for delicious Thai experience.

  3. Try cashews with a little bit of maple syrup--it makes an excellent topping for hot cereals.

  4. Mix cashew butter with some soy sauce, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger and water in a saucepan over low-medium heat, to make a marvelous sauce for vegetables, fish, rice, or tofu.

  5. Add cashew butter to breakfast soy or rice milk shakes to increase the protein content (a quarter-cup of cashews provides over 5 grams of protein) and lend them a creamy nutty flavor.

Almonds

 

One of the most popular and versatile nuts, the almond is really the seed of the fruit of the almond tree. Although they are available year-round, they tend to be freshest in the summer months. Not surprisingly, their health benefits are many. They include among other:

  • Reduce Risk of Heart Disease and Lower LDL Cholesterol – Although almonds are actually high in monounsaturated fats (the same as found in olive oil), this type of fat is beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering LDL cholesterol. The antioxidant effects of vitamin E found in the almond also contribute to this reduction. Researchers involved with the Nurses’ Health Study estimated that substituting nuts for an equal amount of carbohydrates in a normal diet resulted in a 30 percent reduction in heart disease risk.

  • Magnesium and Potassium – Like with cashews, almonds are a good source of magnesium. A ¼ cup of almonds contains 62 mg of magnesium or 15 percent of DV. Magnesium improves the flow of nutrients, oxygen, and blood throughout the body. The same size portion of almonds also has 162 mg of potassium, another mineral that is necessary for good heart function and healthy blood pressure.

  • Protection Against Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes – Almonds are very valuable in lessening the surges in blood sugar and insulin after meals but also deliver antioxidants to take out free radicals. Eating almonds reduces the glycemic index of a meal, proportionate to the amount of almonds eaten.

  • Almonds Superior to Whole Wheat Muffins for Improving Blood Fats – Studies conducted at the University of Toronto found that a daily 2.5-ounce snack of almonds surpasses a whole wheat muffin having the same amount of fat and fiber in lowering blood LDL and raising blood HDL. This is due to the phytonutrients, particularly the flavonoids, found in almonds.

  • Eat Whole Almonds -- The flavonoids found in almond skins combines with the vitamin E found in the meat to more than double the antioxidant effect either provides when administered separately, shows a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Twenty potent antioxidant flavonoids were identified in almond skins in this study.

  • Lose Weight – Again like cashews, almonds when eaten at least two times per week were less likely to gain weight than participants who never or rarely ate nuts. In addition, almonds added to a low-calorie diet can actually help overweight persons actually lose weight.

  • Manganese, Copper, and Riboflavin – Copper and manganese, both found in almonds, are two trace minerals of a major oxidative enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase takes out free radicals produced within the mitochondria. This enhances our energy. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) also has two significant functions in the body's energy production. When active in energy production pathways, riboflavin takes the form of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) or flavin mononucleotide (FMN). In these forms, riboflavin attaches to protein enzymes called flavoproteins that allow oxygen-based energy production to occur.

  • Prevent Gallstones – Similar to cashews, people who eat at least one ounce of almonds a week have a 25 percent lower risk of developing gallstones.

Some good food ideas with almonds—try adding them to yogurt, curried vegetables, breakfast shakes, and salad.


Be sure and add almonds to your list from our online story as they are versatile, taste great, and are very healthy!

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