Raw foodists adopt a special lifelong diet that is based around unprocessed, unheated plant foods many of which may be organically grown. Their goal is to have at least 75 percent of their diet conform to these raw food standards.
Heating foods above 112 degrees Fahrenheit is avoided on the basis that cooking destroys the enzymes in the food which help the body to digest the food and absorb nutrients. Protein is an essential component of the human diet. If cooked sources of protein like poultry, eggs, and beef can not be consumed, how then can the raw foodist fulfill his daily recommended allowance of protein in his diet? The answer is nuts!
Nuts are high in protein and fiber and contain several minerals and vitamins essential to good health. They do not contain cholesterol and their high fat content is mostly unsaturated fat, the type known to lower the levels of low-density lipoproteins that contribute to heart disease and stroke. They also have phytochemicals, antioxidants that keep cell damage in the body to a minimum. One of these, ellagic acid, prevents aflatoxins which can cause liver cancer or chronic liver disease from becoming active in the body.
Only one-third cup or 1.5 ounces need be consumed to take the place of a one ounce serving of lean meat. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet recommends four or five servings each week. The body needs two to three daily servings of a high-protein food like dry beans, peas, lentils, or nuts.
Following is a list of the ten nuts every raw foodist should consider including in his diet along with their nutritional benefits.
Almonds are the most commonly eaten tree nut. One serving equals about 24 whole pieces. They are one of the lowest calorie nuts at 160 calories, along with cashews and pistachios, and are high in protein (6 grams). Besides being one of the nuts with the highest amount of fiber per serving (3 grams), they have no natural sodium. Almonds are a good source of riboflavin and vitamin E. Of all of the nuts, almonds have the greatest amount of calcium. Raw foodists will especially like almonds because most of the 14 grams of fat found in them are monounsaturated fats.
Brazil nuts have a hard shell requiring a hammer or special nutcracker to crack them open. Once you do, the shell will yield its ‘meat’, rich in magnesium and phosphorus yet the lowest in carbohydrates of all the nuts. Raw foodists should note that the ‘meat’ should look white; if it is yellowed, the nut may have become rancid. Brazil nuts tower above the others as far as its selenium content. Selenium combines with proteins to make enzymes that are strong antioxidants. Selenoproteins also control the thyroid and aid the immune system. One serving size is only six Brazil nuts.
Only eighteen cashews yields 160 calories. The total fat content is one of the lowest of all the nuts, while the iron, zinc, and pantothenic acid content of cashews make them fairly nutritious. Raw foodists should know that cashews the highest natural sodium count of any of the nuts if sodium is a dietary concern.
These have more Vitamin C than any other nut and provide three grams of fiber in every serving of twenty hazelnuts. Also known as filberts, they are very tasty and grow wild in some areas of Oregon, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The raw foodist may try his hand at picking and drying his own filberts as I did one summer. They have a wonderful wild taste.
Go lightly consuming these. Every ten to twelve nuts have 200 calories and a relatively high total fat content (22 grams). They will, however, contribute a good amount of thiamine to the raw foodist’s diet.
Everyone loves peanuts and no wonder. They have the highest amount of protein among all nuts and legumes and contain mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are an excellent source of niacin and folate, both essential for the prevention of birth defects, as well as pantothenic acid. A raw foodist can eat 28 peanuts per serving.
These crunchy nuts are one of the better sources of fiber. Only 19 pecan halves will give the raw foodist 3 grams worth. Their fat content comes mostly from monounsaturated forms and though one serving of pecans is 200 calories, one of the highest of all the types of nuts, it is low in carbohydrates.
Pine nuts are included in Greek, Mediterranean, and Oriental recipes, and the European variety contains more protein than its American cousin. It is bountiful in the mineral manganese and is also a great source of zinc and Vitamin K. A whopping 157 kernels of pine nuts constitutes a serving.
Pistachios are low in calories and total fat. A serving size is 49 nuts which contain the highest amounts of potassium, thiamin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, and beta carotene of all the nuts.
Last but not least, the walnut’s fat content mainly derives from polyunsaturated fats. Fourteen walnut halves are a pretty good source of manganese and copper.
According to Thomas E. Billings on Chet Day’s website “Health and Beyond”, the sprouts from some nuts taste very fine. He recommends trying almonds, peanuts, and pine nuts. Sprout only unblanched unmilled and whole nuts. The sprouts may require peeling before eating.
Raw foodists wishing to find a good protein source which is high in fiber and in essential vitamins and minerals will not go wrong if they include nuts as part of their diet.