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Benefits of nuts – Healthwise

Benefits of nuts

Olufunke Faluyi

My lips are naturally dark and I do not like that. My immediate younger sister and I are the ones with dark lips in the family. Two years ago, I was at a social gathering and I noticed that an old schoolmate I had not seen for over 20 years was gazing at me. At some point, she walked up to me and said, “I have been looking at your dark lips. I love them.” I smiled. Deep inside me, I said, “at least, she did not tease me that I am a smoker like some other people.” For the first time ever, I felt a kind of acceptance of those dark lips! Why am I saying this? Try to love your body the way it is, many cosmetic surgeries go wrong these days. However, if that thing that makes you have sleepless nights is a congenital abnormality that can be corrected medically, then, you can go for it.

There are still many good nuts that can be discussed but I have decided to wrap it up in the series. Which of the exotic nuts have you eaten? Despite the fact that I have explained over and over that they are exotic nuts and that they do not have local names, I keep getting text messages on what their local names are. Of all 12 nuts I discussed, only walnuts, tigernuts and peanuts are the ones planted here and they are the ones with local names. For the umpteenth time, the rest of the nuts are non-indigenous nuts, so, there are no local names for them. Instead of asking for their local names, ask me “how can I get them.”

I deliberately took my eyes off something while discussing these nuts. I would like to address it now. The Brazil nut is technically a seed rather than a nut, Pistachios are not true botanical nuts, technically, it is a “drupe,” a fleshy tree fruit that contains a shell-covered seed. Tiger nuts are not actually nuts but rather edible tubers. Peanuts are not actually a true nut; they are a legume (in the same family as peas and lentils). What are nuts then? In botany terms, nuts are strictly a particular kind of dry fruit that has a single seed, a hard shell and a protective husk. Chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts fit the true definition of a nut. Even at that, what is in a name anyway? Whether they are nuts or not, the most important thing is that we have seen that nuts are nature’s way of showing us good things come in small packages and that these set of bite-size nutritional powerhouses that we have ignored are actually packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.

As a recap, Brazil nuts, Pistachios, peanuts, tiger nuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, cashew nuts, almond nuts, macadamia nuts and Hazelnuts were discussed. They are a good source of plant-based protein, especially for those who eat few or no animal products. Eating nuts can help you meet your needs for protein which is necessary for building bones, and muscles and for good skin. I talked about them being a source of antioxidants and that they are high in fiber. I talked about some other benefits which are aiding weight loss, lowering cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, reducing inflammation and their effect on cardiovascular health.

Apart from eating them as snacks, I also talked about some of their by-products. For example, all of them can be made into flour and oil can be extracted from them. They can be made into butter and plant-based milk can also be derived from them. However, while there are plenty of plant-based dairy alternatives out there on grocery shelves, it is important to learn how to make your plant-based milk at home. To make almond milk, for example, all you have to do is to soak almonds in water overnight. You can soak longer too, the longer you soak the almonds, the creamier the milk will be. Drain and rinse them from their soaking water and grind them with fresh water. The resulting liquid sieved from the almond meal is almond milk. You can use the leftover pulp for a variety of baked goods and recipes. To use the leftover pulp, simply lay it out in a thin layer on a tray to dry out and use it as flour.

Nuts contain nutritional inhibitors, so, by soaking them, the inhibitors are minimised or eliminated. Without the inhibitors and toxic substances, the nutrients of the nuts are more readily available for absorption in the body and more easily digested. Soaking also makes them softer and easier to blend. To soak nuts is simple and almost effortless, the harder the nut, the longer you need to soak it. Almonds do best when soaked for about 12 hours, whereas cashews only require a couple of hours since they are on the softer side.

I spoke with a nurse in charge of the nutritional rehabilitation clinic of Urban Comprehensive Health Centre, Eleyele, Ile-Ife, Osun State; an annex of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Mrs. Oluwabunmi Arije, and she gave the procedure of peanut milk making. She told me that the dirt from the peanuts (groundnuts) will be picked, then blended (with the skin) and then sieved. She said the sieved fluid is then cooked and removed from fire immediately it gathers together and that it must not be left on fire till it breaks. Also, she said the pot must not be covered so that it does not spill over. She concluded that a little quantity of salt is added with any sweetener of one’s choice.

In this series, the age-old belief that peanuts (groundnuts) cause hemorrhoids was demystified. I will like to say in addition that it is possible that some individuals have hemorrhoid-like symptoms after consumption of peanuts, yet it is not right to generalise and conclude that peanuts cause hemorrhoids. Also, light was shed on the fact that peanuts do not cause liver cancer but that aflatoxins are the culprit. So, always check that your nuts do not have moulds on them.

During the introduction of this series, I mentioned that some people have nut allergies. I will like to talk more about it. A nut allergy develops when the body’s immune system becomes oversensitive to a particular protein in a nut. Nuts that are the worst for allergies include peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts and pine nuts. Symptoms of peanuts and tree nut allergies vary and range from milder reactions to anaphylaxis; a severe allergic reaction. Mild symptoms include raised red bumps on the skin (hives), runny nose, cramps, nausea or vomiting. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include: difficult or noisy breathing, swelling of the tongue, swelling or tightness of the throat, difficulty talking or a hoarse voice, persistent cough, persistent dizziness and so on. The best way to manage peanuts and tree nut allergies is to avoid products containing these foods.

I hope I have been able to convince you that nuts are worth adding to your diet.

source :punch

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Written by Tomisin Akinola

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