Carol Pillar, R.H.N.
Every time I research a topic I find more interesting stuff! This subject ties in with the last blog about sprouts where I mentioned that many plants have natural “toxins” to safeguard their longevity. Thanks Joanne for asking me to expand on the most beneficial way to consume nuts and seeds. You are on the right track soaking and dehydrating the nuts for your granola recipes as they contain enzyme inhibitors that can make for difficult digestion in the human body. The inhibitor, namely phytic acid, can be reduced by soaking, sprouting or fermenting. Dehydrating, or slow gentle roasting will also somewhat reduce the levels but also ensures moisture is removed to prevent molds forming. We do produce some phytase (digestive enzyme) to help with the phytic acid, but as we age less is produced and if you regularly consume nuts and seeds this can become an issue. Thing is, there is another point worth remembering – even though these foods are considered good sources of minerals (along with B vitamins, folate, fiber and some protein) the phytic acid binds to the zinc, calcium and iron forming insoluble salts that are poorly absorbed in the gut. This inhibitor is also found in lesser amounts in grains and legumes, so it’s a good thing we generally cook them.
Nuts and seeds provide many health benefits. Rich in antioxidants, zinc, selenium and vitamin E, healthy fats – the content and composition of these varies considerably between varieties and boosts the calories, so consume in moderation. Watch those pecans and macadamians they’re 85-95% fat! Once shelled, to protect the delicate oils, all should be stored in glass containers in the fridge.
FYI – almonds are the lowest in fat, sesame seeds high in calcium, pumpkin seeds rich in zinc, bazil nuts best source of selenium, walnuts and flax seed contain omega 3 fatty acids.