By Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D. | Published by Huffington Post, 05/07/2014
Nuts are one of the most amazing foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, nutrients and heart healthy fats. They’re void of sugar and contain minimal carbohydrates, and best of all, they taste heavenly. Despite these fun facts, I’ve run into many patients in my practice that avoid them like the plague due to their high fat and high calorie content. Fear not! Nuts can and should be a part of your diet for a variety of health and culinary reasons.
The most important reasons come from two huge studies published in the past two years. They showed that nut eaters live longer than non-nut eaters and have a lower incidence of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease. Here are seven nuts, seven facts and seven uses that will make you go nuts for what I call the other white meat!
1. Cashews are not the enemy — but their shells are!
Wondering why you can’t find a cashew sleeping inside its shell like you can other nuts? It’s because that shell can actually hurt you. Cashews are in the same plant family as poison ivy and poison sumac and their itchy oil is contained almost entirely in the shell of the nut. That’s why you find cashews sold out of the shell. Once you get past the shell, go nuts! Eating cashews may help you ward off, or manage diabetes by helping to stimulate blood sugar absorption by muscle cells, according to the authors of a 2010 study.
Cashews are commonly used in Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisines as a garnish or added into curry sauce. They can also be made into a cashew cream as a dairy-free vegan substitute. Check out this delicious recipe by Tal Ronnen!
2. The pistachio fruit (yes, it’s actually a fruit) and the vegetable kale have a lot in common.
Why? Because they’re both green! Pistachios get their green color from the same pigment (chlorophyll) that lights up your spinach, kale and other fabulous plant based foods. Pistachio consumption has been linked to increased antioxidants in the blood, improved heart health and may even decrease your risk for lung cancer. Pistachios can be eaten whole as a snack, used as a butter or paste to flavor foods, or crumbled as a topping on a salad.