Nuts have lots of healthy benefits. Protein, vitamins, and nutrients, turn them into a tasty and healthy treat. But, in recent years, the way nuts are consumed, has drastically changed. Nut allergies (especially peanuts), have been increasingly on the rise. There are theories that say it’s because we’re too clean, making our immune systems bored, so they attack nuts, just because. So, after adding pesticides, herbicides, sugars, preservatives, and countless chemicals, you have a reaction to the nut, and they say your immune system is the problem? Ya, that makes a lot of sense.
I think real healthy nuts are great for you, but I need to make a distinction. When I say nuts, I don’t mean peanuts…
“Why the Nut that is Not a Nut Can Be Dangerous:
For starters, the peanut (arachis hypogea) is actually not a nut at all. It is a bean — and a peculiar one at that. It is part of the legume family, and while most of the beans found in this family grow in pods on sprawling, climbing vines, the peanut plant is a lonely bush that matures its pods underneath the ground in a root system. It is primarily due to the peanuts’ direct contact with the soil that they have become harmful, and even dangerous, to your health.
While actual nuts like almonds and walnuts have strong, hard shells that protect them, the legume known as a peanut has soft and porous skin. When the environment surrounding the peanut becomes warm, humid and wet — as it does in most regions of the U.S. where peanuts are commonly grown — a fungal growth occurs. The fungus itself is not dangerous, but the poison it releases, known as “aflatoxin,” is. This cancer-causing agent attacks the liver and is one of the more deadly food-borne toxins in existence.
Largely because of the regions they’re commonly grown in and the fact that they’re relatively easy for pests to attack and penetrate, peanuts are also one of the crops most heavily sprayed with pesticides. So the standard peanut packs a double-whammy risk to your health.”
There are a lot of people who argue the positive attributes of peanuts too. I think it’s better to just go with a real nut. However, if you really want peanuts, with a bit of hard work, you might be able to find some of decent quality (grown in dry grown, not sprayed with pesticides, etc.).
Now, onto the real nuts. Even if a nut is labeled as organic, healthy, or even raw, that doesn’t mean it is good for you. One of the best ways to check for quality, is your immune system. It’s designed to let you know if there is a problem. A few years back I had some Cascadian Farms cereal (healthy company). It had been a while since I had cereal, but the second I had it I got a headache. Now, the box might say organic, whole grain, or whatever else, but I knew something in it was unhealthy, if it made me feel sick. Researching further, sure enough, I found that General Mills had bought out the once healthy company, and added maltodextrin (and who knows what else) to the cereal. Yet I’m sure those companies would say it was my bored immune systems fault.
On a related note, labels are allowed to say nuts are raw, that are not. The U.S. federal government ruled that minimally processed and insecticide treated nuts, can still be labeled raw. So, for the sake of your health, don’t trust labels.
Now, an important step to creating a healthy nut is the soaking/sprouting process. Nuts can be hard on a persons digestion. Soaking/sprouting can help in multiple ways.
“Why Soak or Sprout?
Grains and seeds are rich sources of nutrients—but when they are soaked or sprouted, they can become nutritional powerhouses. In a nutshell, here’s why: The germination process (sprouting) produces vitamin C and increases carotenoids and vitamin B content, especially vitamins B2 (riboflavin) , B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyridoxine). Even more importantly, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all seeds that inhibits the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds. This is important because these inhibitors can neutralize your own precious enzymes in the digestive tract, which is one reason many people seem to get a stomach ache or excess bloating after consuming large amounts of seeds or grains. Sprouting can also inactivate certain toxins found in seeds.”
Basically, un-soaked nuts can be toxic, even if it’s in small amounts, while soaked nuts, have incredible health benefits. There has been a lot of debate over this issue. Personally, I think big companies don’t want a demand for soaking/sprouting because the process would cost them a lot more money. If soaking sounds too strange to you, try giving it a shot once, and see if you can feel the difference. It also improves the taste of the nuts. If you do it, try to make as large a batch as you can. I can handle making it once in a while, but it’s not something you should have to do regularly.
Whatever the studies, research, or hygienic theories say, you know how you feel. Experiment with it, and figure out what works for you. The main point of being healthy, is feeling healthy.
Good Luck out there
(health benefits of nuts)
(U.S. raw nut laws)
(Why the nut that is not a nut, can be dangerous)
(why soak or sprout?)