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WARNING: PRETTY PINK PEPPERCORNS CAN BE DANGEROUS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 19, 2014

Pink peppercorns, appealing and innocent-looking pink berries, can have the same serious, 105_5_11_13life-threatening allergenic potential for anyone who suffers from a tree nut allergy. People who avoid eating nuts because of tree-nut allergies may also want to avoid pink peppercorns. Pink peppercorns are members of the cashew family (Anacardiaceae) that includes cashews, pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac.

Thanks to the conscientious effort of Christina who writes Christina’s Cucina blog, I now have important allergenic information to share.

The serious side of pink peppercorns
Christina brought this critical allergen to my attention because her young daughter experienced 4490858102_603b6eef7a_zanaphylaxis, a life-threatening episode, after eating a food containing pink peppercorn seasoning. Because the child had a serious tree-nut allergy, the family made conscious efforts to avoid all nuts. A restaurant meal containing seasoning that included pink peppercorns brought on the anaphylactic episode. Fortunately, nature played a prominent role in her recovery, causing the child to vomit and expel the toxic substance.

However, the family was puzzled about the food that caused the severe reaction. After extensive research, Christina learned about the connection of this seasoning ingredient to the cashew family and confirmed that the chef at the restaurant had used pink peppercorns.

Because of her concern for others with nut allergies, Christina contacted Penzeys Spices and asked that a warning be placed on the labels of any of the spice blends containing pink peppercorns. The company complied and now has warnings on containers that include “pink pepperberries.” Penzeys Spices also includes the warning in their popular spice catalog.

Still concerned, Christina contacted Trader Joe’s and requested they label pink peppercorn as a tree nut, because of its relationship to the cashew family. Trader Joe’s responded as follows:

“The FDA has very strict guidelines for top 8 allergen labeling and we cannot place a warning for non-top 8 allergens on our product labeling. Pink peppercorns are not considered a top 8 allergen by the FDA and therefore we cannot include this in an allergen statement for our products. However, we will also be sure to share your comments and specific concerns with the appropriate parties within our Quality Assurance and Buying Teams for further review and consideration in the
future”

Pink peppercorns receive the guilty verdict
Others with tree-nut allergies have innocently encountered pink peppercorns, resulting in anaphylaxis and an emergency trip to the hospital. A 26-year old woman developed anaphylaxis after eating pink peppercorn seasoning. She had a tree nut allergy and experienced previous life-threatening episodes after eating cashews unknowingly. Cashews can be hidden in prepared foods and restaurant meals in unexpected foods like creamy sauces. The occurrence was a mystery until she learned about the relationship of pink peppercorns to the cashew-mango family. This incident was reported in The World Allergy Organization Journal Feb 2012; 5(Suppl 2) S152. Published online Feb. 17, 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512604/

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Researchers at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Department of Allergy and Immunology, reported on the case of the 26-year old woman mentioned above. They concluded, “This is the first reported case of a patient developing anaphylaxis after pink pepper ingestion. Patients with tree nut allergies may need to be educated regarding this potential allergen.” The researchers also noted there is potential for cross-reactivity among different members of the Anacardiaceae family.

Some people are so sensitive to tree nuts and, especially peanuts, that even touching nuts or inhaling in their presence may be serious. The allergenic substance in the pink peppercorns may be urushiol, an oily substance present in some members of the Anacardiaceae family. With mangoes, urushiol is found in the skin, while it is the shell that clings tightly to the cashew nut that contains the allergen. In poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, urushiol is an oleoresin present in the sap. This oil can cause allergenic reactions rather quickly.

In his revised and updated book On Food and Cooking; The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, author Harold McGee writes about pink peppercorns, “The tree is in the cashew and mango family, which also includes poison ivy and poison oak, and its brittle, peppercorn-sized fruits contain cardanol, an irritating phenolic compound that limits its usefulness in foods.”

Share this important message
The Food Allergy Research & Education organization advises that people with a tree nut allergy be prepared with emergency medication in case of anaphylaxis. They suggest having an epinephrine auto-injector like an EpiPen, Auvi-Q or Adrenaclick on hand at all times.

I’m aware that knowing this information could save your life or the life of someone you know. If you suffer from a tree nut allergy or know someone who does, I urge you to share this information and encourage others to read the ingredient labels carefully when purchasing spice blends to avoid these highly allergenic pink berries. Even if you’ve been using a product for a long time and think you’re familiar with the ingredients, read the label anyway. Manufacturers make changes in their formulations from time to time and are required to list new ingredients on their labels.

Families with young children with severe nut allergies need to take special precaution to make sure their foods are free of the entire family of nuts and related foods like pink peppercorns, and sometimes even sesame and sunflower seeds, which have properties similar to tree nuts.

Ask specifically about nut-containing ingredients at restaurants, friends’ and relatives’ homes, and daycare centers to prevent tragic life-threatening episodes. I know it’s a time-eater, but packing your child’s school lunches could be lifesaving. For those times when your child eats at the school cafeteria, I also think it’s important to ask about all the ingredients in prepared school lunches.

Teachers and day-care workers may find invaluable help at AllergyReady.com, a website that offers a free version of their program called How to C.A.R.E. for Students with Food Allergies, an online course.

About pink peppercorns
Research about pink peppercorns reveals they are not actually part of the Southeast Asian black pepper family at all, but are often included in colorful peppercorn blends that feature white, black, green, and pink whole pepper berries. Pink peppercorns offer a milder hint of spice than black pepper and have a delicate, sweet, fruity flavor due to sugar content. These peppercorns also add attractive color and appealing flavor to pepper blends and seasoning mixtures.

Members of the Anacardiaceae (cashew) family and natives of South America, these pink berries grow in clusters on a tree known by many names: Brazilian pepper, Peruvian pepper, Peruvian mastic tree, Baies Rose, California pepper tree, American pepper tree, Florida Holly, Christmasberry, and peppercorn tree. Though there are two tree varieties that produce these berries, the berries themselves are quite similar.

Brazilian peppercornsThe Brazillian pepper tree, introduced into Florida in the 1800s and also known as Florida Holly and Christmasberry, is scientifically classified as Schinus terebinthifolius. The tree grows more like a tall shrub, up to 33 feet high, with broader, alternating leaves than its cousin, the Peruvian pepper tree and is considered an invasive pest. Peppercorns from this variety may owe its toxicity to its content of urushiol oil allergens and phenolic cardanol.

The Peruvian pepper tree, also called Peruvian mastic tree and Baies Rose, is classified schinus-mollescientifically as Shinus molle, and is commonly listed as the California pepper tree because it thrives so well in California’s hot climate with very little water. This variety grows quite tall, up to 40 feet, and resembles a weeping willow with elongated narrow leaves that cascade downward, giving a delicate lacy appearance. This variety is common in Southern California and other warm climates like Hawaii. Shinus molle is the variety of pepper tree that grows on the French island of Reunion. Much of the pink peppercorns that the U.S. imported came from this island. This variety may or may not contain urushiol oils.

The University of California lists Schinus terebinthifolius and Schinus molle as minor toxic garden plants that may cause illness like vomiting or diarrhea.

The bright pink berries have many names also: Christmas berries, rose berries, false pepper, pink peppercorns, pink pepperberries, pink berries, and rose baises.

A culinary delight with a dangerous edge
Innovative chefs are always searching for the next food ingredient to thrill the foodies who love a new trend. But they never considered the possibility that an unassuming ingredient like pink peppercorns could be a risky flavoring choice. Several years ago, pink peppercorns became the trendy gems of innovative chefs who would crush them and add them to gourmet dishes to add a sweet, peppery taste and appealing pink color. Bold chefs used them to garnish canapés, flavor ice cream, and add zest to chocolate.

A number of craft beer brewers suggest adding pink peppercorns in small quantities when brewing beer or ale to add a sweet, fruity quality, resulting in flavors similar to golden raisins, plums, or juniper berries. Sometimes brewers combine the pink peppercorns with other herbs or spices to appeal to those who appreciate unique beers. These fruity style beers are known as Saison or Lambic.

Peru 2Many ancient cultures actively brewed beer, but it was the Incas who recognized the flavor potential of adding pink peppercorns to their beer. Predating the Incas were the Wari tribe from southern Peru who used their native foods to brew beer–fermented corn and pink peppercorns.

The F.D.A. weighs in
Writing in The New York Times Home & Garden section, on March 31, 1982, Marian Burros reported the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) took action to halt imports of pink peppercorns from France because of concern they may cause serious toxic reactions. Under the food-additive amendment to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, it became illegal to import pink peppercorns. The law did not affect any supplies of pink peppercorns already in the U.S., and none were recalled because the F.D.A. declared it lacked financial means to issue a recall and did not consider them life-threatening.

A University of Michigan herbal consultant explained that pink peppercorns, Schinus terebinthifolius, are related to poison ivy and can cause the same unpleasant symptoms people Braz6experience when exposed: swollen eyelids, shortness of breath, violent headaches, chest pains, sore throat, hoarseness, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and upset stomach. Apparently, some birds that ingest the peppercorns can experience intoxication. After learning this information, the F.D.A. issued the following statement:

“While it is not known how many berries are required to cause adverse effects, experts advise against eating the pink or red peppercorns.”

The article mentions the French government’s claim that pink peppercorns grown on their soil under different conditions do not cause any of the troublesome reactions. The F.D.A. said they would maintain the ban until they were given proof by the French government that the imported peppercorns would not cause harm. “No one is able to tell us the exact ingredient that is causing the problem,” said F.D.A.s’ John Taylor III, Director of the Office of Regulatory Affairs.

Taylor recognized the berries from the trees grown in the U.S. and those grown on the Ile de Reunion, a French island near Madagascar, were the same species but may have different volatile oils that made the French berries problem-free.

The New York Times article said the F.D.A. proposed the French government send an affirmation that stated the pink peppercorns were “generally recognized as safe.” Until then, the ban would remain in place.

Wikipedia mentions the ban was lifted but does not provide a date or any statement from the F.D.A. Because it may be difficult to determine which variety of the pink berries are contained in seasoning mixtures, or whether variety matters, I would advise anyone with a nut allergy to avoid pink peppercorns completely.

References:
“422 A Rare Case of Food-induced Anaphylaxis to Pink Peppercorns.”
U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health from
The World Allergy Organization Journal Feb 2012; 5(Suppl 2) S152. Published online Feb. 17, 2012 at 10.1097/01.WOX.0000412185.17758.4f http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512604/

“Brazilian Pepper-tree, Schinus terebinthifolius.”
University of Florida IFAS Extension http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fw037

Burros, Marian. “F.D.A. AND FRENCH DISAGREE ON PINK PEPPERCORN’S EFFECTS.” New York Times. Home & Garden, March 31, 1982. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/31/garden/fda-and-french-disagree-on-pink-peppercorn-s-effects.html

“Is it okay to eat the pink pepper corns out of my yard?”
Fluther.com http://www.fluther.com/145572/is-it-okay-to-eat-the-pink-pepper-corns-out-of/

McIlroy, Anne. “Ancient empire built on beer.” November 15, 2005. Globe and Mail. Organissimo. http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/23318-ancient-empire-built-on-beer/

“Pink Peppercorns.” Clove Garden. http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/cw_pprpz.html

“Spice Guide Entry For: Pink Pepper (Shinus terebinthifolius).”
Celtnet Recipes http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/spice-entry.php?term=Pink%20Pepper

“Toxic Plants (by scientific name).”
University of California Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. http://ucanr.edu/sites/poisonous_safe_plants/Toxic_Plants_by_Scientific_Name_685/

“Tree Nut Allergies.” FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education.
About Food Allergies. http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/tree-nut-allergy

“What’s The Deal With Green, Black, White, and Pink Peppercorns?” the kitchn. http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-deal-with-green-blac-93231

“When to Use Your EpiPen Auto-Injector.” EpiPen. https://www.epipen.com/en/about-epipen/when-to-use-epipen?

“Pink peppercorn.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. February 2, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_peppercorn

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Improving the Digestibility and Absorption of Nuts

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 27, 2012


I’m delighted to add this guest post by a person who knows nuts like few of us do. Jerry Henkin is a nut grower from New York. As a member of the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) he takes an active role as their librarian and works to build and maintain the organization’s holdings. Jerry is also Vice-President of the New York Nut Grower’s Association (NYNGA).

NNGA held their annual meeting where Jerry gave a presentation based on his well-researched article below. He was generous enough to allow me to share the article on the NutGourmet Blog. You can contact Jerry at sproutnut@aol.com

Nut Nutrition: Improving the Digestibility and Absorption of Nuts by Soaking
By Jerry Henkin, NYNGA Vice President
August, 20, 2012

As growers of nut trees, we seek to produce the best nuts we can grow for consumption by people. There is also an interest among farmers who raise livestock, especially sustainable agriculture and permaculture practitioners, in using nuts as forage for animals. All of us should know about the healthful qualities of nuts for our own well being. We should eagerly share this information with others when promoting nuts.

Since the inception of the Northern Nut Growers Association in 1910, only 1% of the articles in the Annual Report and The Nutshell magazine have dealt with the nutritional aspect of nuts. Though I am not a professional nutritionist, I have learned a great deal from studying scientific reports on nutrition that deal with nuts from NNGA literature and from the following organizations: The Food and Research Program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Loma Linda University; the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University; the University of Scranton; Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute; Penn State University; the University of Missouri; and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. I wish to thank Dr. Barry Kendler, a Professor of Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport, in Connecticut, who has helped me organize my presentation on nut nutrition.

I want to tell you what I learned about the health benefits of nuts and then describe a simple technique to increase the nutritional value of nuts by soaking and drying them.

Nuts are highly nutritious

Raw nut kernels (without salt, and not roasted in fatty oils, or “honey roasted”) are excellent sources of fiber, proteins, and the`” good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). They contain an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Since each kind of nut has a different percentage of these healthful ingredients, it’s a good idea to eat a variety of nuts: pistachios, different species of walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, hickory nuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts. Acorns are edible, as well; those of you who attended last year’s meeting in Utah heard Howard Manning speak about the tradition of the Native Americans in California leaching acorns to remove the tannic acid. They then pound the nuts into a meal.

Nuts are concentrated energy foods. Mountain climbers, Arctic explorers, and average hikers carry a portable sack of nuts and dried fruits along with water. Captain Reid Stowe took in-shell hickory nuts on his record-breaking 1,000 day sea voyage. (I should know because I supplied them to him along with mung beans for sprouting.) While nuts are high in calories, just eating a handful – about 2 ounces, or roughly 1/4 cup – 5 days out of the week is sufficient to bring you the health benefits that nuts can offer. Nuts do need to be chewed thoroughly for their healthful properties to be used by the body. They should not be eaten after a heavy meal because that could lead to weight gain. Nor should a bowlful of kernels be left on the coffee table in front of the TV during the football season.

Lifestyle plays a role in health
Eating nuts is not a guarantee of good health: some of the other factors that come into play are our genetic inheritance; the amount of exercise we do; our lifestyle choices and stress level; and the negative factors like smoking and being overweight. But the scientific studies cited at the end of this article indicate the health benefits that can accrue from a regular diet of nuts: They strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, and protect the body from viral invasion and tumor growth. They can lower the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Moreover, eating nuts on a regular basis has been shown to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes. They can lower stress levels. Nuts also reduce the risk of high blood pressure which can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Walnuts and pecans, especially, which are high in antioxidants, reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Almonds and peanuts should be eaten with their skins because they, too, contain high levels of antioxidants. Nuts may even play a role in maintaining healthy sexual function in men.

Chestnuts have special health benefits
Chestnuts, unlike other nuts, are a significant source of Vitamin C. They are also rich in vitamin B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, and Niacin. Chestnuts have the highest percentage of carbohydrates which has given them the nickname, “the runner’s nut” because they increase the body’s ability to cope with stress. An article in the NNGA Annual Report in 1987, by G.P. Abide, describes how to make chestnut chips as a commercial product. Chestnut flour is another value-added product. Mr. Abide advises nut growers to “be in line with current consumer trends favoring healthful foods.” How much more true that advice is now than 25 years ago.

We need to advise our customers and friends who eat nuts to store them in the refrigerator, and not leave them out on the kitchen table with a cracker and a pick, as inviting as that might sound. Nuts in the shell maintain their flavor longest. Most nuts can be stored in the freezer for years.

Some words of caution about eating nuts: There may be insect larvae within the shell. Also, nut kernels may turn rancid after a period of time if improperly stored. The oils within the kernel will spoil, causing the kernels to look yellowish and waxy. So look at the nuts you’ve just cracked out of the shell for insect infestation; feel them and smell them for signs of rancidity. If you’re cracking out nuts instead of buying the nuts already shelled, make sure to eliminate all shell materials – black walnut fragments can crack a tooth; tiny shell pieces can lodge in between teeth.

Nut allergies can be serious

A very small percentage of the population of the United States is allergic to tree nuts and/or peanuts. Some people can die if they consume even minute quantities which might have been added as an ingredient to other food products. In 1964 George Borgstrom wrote an article in the Annual Report calling for nut breeders to develop cultivars that would eliminate the allergens that cause such severe reactions in some people. To my knowledge, no one has taken up this challenge. Please let the NNGA know if this breeding work has been done.

Nuts enhance the dining experience
Now for the delicious part: nuts enhance the flavor and texture in bland foods like chicken, cabbage, salad, green beans, vegetable soup, waffles, pancakes, and muffins. While vegetarian restaurants have long served simple dishes using nuts, elegant restaurants have recently been offering pistachio crusted salmon, hazelnut stroganoff, and chocolate-chestnut trifle. Nuts can be added to milkshakes and made into nut milks and nut butters. The Native Americans of Virginia pounded hickory nuts into a paste, soaked them in water, and then used the “cream” as a delicacy. They also fermented this mixture to make a liquor.

Nuts are a food staple
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a major contributor to nut research in the early 20th Century, pointed out that nuts have double the nutritive value of lean meat, pound for pound. Yet the land required to produce nuts kernels is half that required to raise livestock. Kellogg believed that nuts should be a food staple, and not just a snack. He used nuts extensively as meals to his patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. In an age of horrible practices in meat slaughterhouses and packing plants, Kellogg said in 1916 that “the nut is sweeter, cleaner, healthier, and cheaper than any possible source of animal product.”

Marion Nestle, a noted nutrition activist, has continued Kellogg’s vision of a world where people eat healthy food. She said that one in seven people on the Earth in 2012 is hungry. She feels that the global food crisis will continue in the U.S. and abroad in cost, volatility, and availability.

In her books, Nestle links malnutrition and hunger with social problems. One approach, she believes is to encourage food co-ops as an alternative to “Big Food” because they are community-based and value-based. Therefore, they must sell clean, healthy, nutritious food. Here is all the more reason, I believe, to plant and care for nut trees now, so that we will have a supply of one kind of healthy food in the future. J. Russell Smith was one of the most outspoken proponents of this idea, which he advocated in his book Tree Crops, A Permanent Agriculture.

Soaking nuts enhances their nutrition
I’m now going to describe a simple method to increase the nutritional value of nuts which everyone can do as long as they have access to clean water. Barbara Mendez, a licensed pharmacist and nutritional consultant, and Zel Allen, the author of several books on healthy eating, have both written articles on the health benefits of soaking nuts. The process calls for soaking raw nut kernels in water for several hours. The kernels should be the freshest you can find. The soaking period varies from 7 to 12 hours, depending upon the density of the kernel, but cashews should be soaked for no more than 6 hours.

After soaking the kernels, use a paper towel to pat them dry. Then, to return the kernels to their natural crispiness, dry them in one of several ways:

1. Roast them in the oven, or a counter-top toaster oven, at 150° to 170° F. for 15 to 20 minutes
2. Place them in a pan and let them dry over the pilot light of a stove for 12 to 24 hours, depending upon how long you have soaked the nuts
3. Use a food dehydrator set at 118° F. for about 7 hours.

During this period, the kernels increase their antioxidant and phytochemical capacity because soaking releases some enzyme inhibitors. This makes the nuts easier to digest. Tannins are removed from walnuts, making them taste sweeter. Soaking nut kernels also allows the body to absorb and use this food, instead of passing kernel pieces rapidly through the body. In effect, you are maximizing the nutritional value of your food when you follow this process. Note that this method reconstitutes nuts whose moisture levels have been previously reduced. They are therefore best eaten within two days.

After you’ve done this for a while, you’ll know the best soaking and drying times for nuts. Since each batch of nuts is different, don’t be afraid to experiment with the soaking and drying times to produce the healthiest and most delicious nuts you can.

List of Sources
Abide, G.P., et al., “Chestnut Chips: A Possible Option for Chestnut Processing”, NNGA (Northern Nut Growers Association) Annual Report 78:12 – 14, (1987)
Allen, Zel, The Nut Gourmet, Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion, Book Publishing Co, 256 pages, 2006, especially “Amazing Health benefits in a Nutshell”, pp. 16 – 19
Allen, Zel, “Nuts – the Delicious Path to Good Health”, The Nutshell, Volume 62, Number 3, September, 2008, p. 16
Allen, Zel, “To Soak or Not to Soak – It’s a Nutty Question”, MNGA (Michigan Nut Growers Association) News, Fall, 2011, pp. 7 – 8
Bixby, Willard G. [NNGA President], “Resolution Adopted by the NNGA, Inc.”, September 14, 1929, NNGA Annual Report 20:158 – 159 (1929)
http://bodyecology.com/articles/how_to_eat_and_not_eat_almonds.php, “How to Eat and Not Eat Almonds”, November 9, 2006
Borgstrom, George, “Nuts in Human Food – A Critical Appraisal”, NNGA Annual Report 55:60 – 64 (1964)
Cajorie, F.A., “The Nutritive Value of Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 10:80 – 87 (1919)
Cao (Tsao), Roon, “Nutritional Data from Heartnuts”, NNGA Annual Report 98 (2007)
Chen, C.Y. and Blumberg, J.B., “Phytochemical Composition of Nuts”, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008:17 Supplement 1:329 – 332
Chestnut, V.K., “Primitive Manufacture and Use of Acorn Meal”, NNGA Annual Report 8:43 – 45 (1917)
Downs, Albert A., “Trees and Food from Acorns”, NNGA Annual Report 40:177 – 179 (1949)
Greiner, Lois, “Marketing Naturally Nutritious Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 77:10 – 12 (1986)
Higdon, Jane (2005), [update, Drake, Victoria J., 2009], “Nuts”, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, 2012
International Nut Tree Council, “Go Nuts Go Healthy”, 11 pages, 2001
Kellogg, J.H., “Advent of Nuts into the Nation’s List of Staple Foods”, NNGA Annual Report 8:46 – 58 (1917)
Kellogg, J.H., “The Food Value of Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 7:101 – 113 (1916)
Kellogg, J.H., “More Nuts, Less Meat”, NNGA Annual Report 21:57 – 65 (1930)
Kellogg, J.H., “Nuts Need as Supplementary Foods”, NNGA Annual Report 11:83 – 92 (1920)
Kendall, C.W., et al., “Nuts, Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes”, British Journal of Nutrition, 2010 August; 104(4)
Kendler, Barry S., “The American Diet and the Need for Dietary Supplementation”, Nutritional Perspectives: Journal of the Council on Nutrition of the American Chiropractic Association, October 2010
King, J.C, et al, “Tree Nuts and Peanuts as Components of a Healthy Diet”, Journal of Nutrition , 2008 September; 138(9):1736S-1740S
Li, L, et al. “Fatty Acid Profiles, Tocopherol Contents, and Antioxidant Activities of Heartnut (Juglans ailanifolia Var. cordiformis) and Persian Walnut (Juglans regia L.), Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, 2007 Februray 21:55(4)
Lombardini, Leonardo, “Phytochemicals and Antioxidants in Pecan”, NNGA Annual Report 99 (2008)
Lovell, John D. and Norton, Julia A., “Food and Horticultural Psychology in Relation to Nut Growing”, NNGA Annual Report 74:119 – 123 (1983)
Malinsky, Alex (aka RawGuru), “ ’C’ is for Chestnut and Vitamin C”, Natural News.com, January 26, 2011
Mendez, Barbara, “Soaking Nuts and Seeds for Maximum Nutrition”, The Nutshell, Volume 66, Number 2, June 2012, pp. 12 – 13
Moree, Shiro, “Health, Nutrition, and Nuts: In a Nutshell”, The Nutshell, Volume 61, Number 1, March, 2007, pp. 24 – 28
Nut Gourmet Blog, May 11, 2011, “Go Nuts Over Antioxidants”, MNGA (Michigan Nut Growers Association) News, Summer, 2011, pp. 11 – 16
Skylles, J. Trevor, “The Nut Crops of Turkey”, NNGA Annual Report 62:70 – 76 (1971)
Smith, J. Russell, Tree Crops, a Permanent Agriculture, The Devin Adair Co., 1953, especially Chapter XV, “Nuts as Human Food”, pp. 202 – 205
Spaccarotella, K.J., et al., “The Effect of Walnut ntake on Factors Relating to Prostate and Vascular Health in Older Men”, Nutrition Journal, 2008 May 2:7:13
Stafford, W.E., “Use of Nuts by the Aboriginal Americans”, NNGA Annual Report, 14:57 – 59 (1923)
Talbert, T.J., “Nut Tree Culture in Missouri”, NNGA Annual Report 41:134 – 135 (1950)
University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, “Nuts to You”, The Nutshell, Volume 51, Number 2, June, 1997, pp. 1 – 2
Villarreal J.E., L. Lombardini, and L. Cisneros-Zevallos,” Phytochemical Constituents and Antioxidant Capacity of Different Pecan [Carya illinonensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] Cultivars”, Food Chem. 102:1241-1249, 2007
Vinson, J.A. and Cai, Y., “Nuts, Especially Walnuts, Have Both Antioxidant Quantity and Efficacy and Exhibit Significant Potential Health Benefits”, Food Function, 2012 February 3; 3(2)
Young, Robert O., “Eating Nuts May Prevent Cancerous Lungs and Prostate”, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Houston, Texas, December 6 -, 2009; reference: http://ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=23047

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, chestnuts, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Allergies, Nut Growing, Nut History, Nut Nutrition, Nut Organizations, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, peanuts, pecans, Uncategorized, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SCIENCE EXPLAINS THE CASHEW AND MANGO DILEMMA

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 22, 2012

Within a few hours after I posted my family’s experience with allergic rashes from consuming mangoes and cashews, I received the comment below. It’s so well explained in scientific terms I thought it important to share in a post rather than a comment.

The information comes from Sandra J. Baker, author of The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide.

Thank you so much Sandra. Your information explains the science behind my husband’s and two sons’ itchy rashes after eating mangoes and cashews. Hopefully, this post and the previous one will benefit others who suffer the misery of itchy skin rashes and haven’t discovered the cause.

Sandra writes:
I can add to your quest for information. Mango, cashew and poison oak, ivy and sumac are all in the family Anacardiaceae. Then poison oak, ivy and sumac join the genus Toxicodendron which contains the allergenic oil urushiol in its resin. But, mango and cashew also have allergenic oils. Mango has resorcinol, and cashew has anacardiol and cardol. All of these allergenic oils have enough similarity that if you are allergic to one, you are probably allergic to the others.

Mangos’ allergenic oil is mostly in the resin canals in the skin (always peel first before eating), and is thought to be somewhat weaker than poison oak/ivys’ oil. Some people are extremely allergic to it, but a mango grower said his workers usually don’t get much of a rash at the beginning of working with the plants. After a while, the sensitivity usually goes away. The oil can migrate from the skin into the flesh, so it is a good idea to stay away from all mango products, even juice if you know you are allergic.

All cashews imported into the US (even those labeled raw) are shelled and cooked a bit beforehand, because that will destroy the allergenic potential of the cashew nut shell oil that is between the honeycombed layers of the shell. (the oil of the cashew itself is harmless). (Poison oak/ivy and sumac oil is highly resistant to heat by the way.

Very seldom, cashews are accidentally imported without being cooked, and may have been contaminated from the shell cracking procedure, Rashes have been documented. This is a much smaller problem than that of mango rashes.

Posted in cashews, Nut Allergies, nut research, Nuts and Health, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

RESEARCHERS GO NUTS OVER ANTIOXIDANTS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on May 31, 2011


Hippocrates (480 BCE-370 BCE), the Father of Western medicine, had the secret of antioxidants in a healthy diet, even though he may not have known it when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” He knew the power of foods from nature was both healing and preventive and emphasized that message to his followers. Though he didn’t have the scientific knowledge that foods from nature, such as tree nuts, contained powerful antioxidants, he witnessed healing taking place when patients ate pure whole foods. He recognized those foods contained remarkable elements that could not only prevent disease but also restore vigor.

Fresh, plant-based foods (nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) do, indeed, contain powerful plant chemicals packed with antioxidants. What are these antioxidants and what can they do? While all plant-based foods contain these powerful healing elements, recent research has revealed the impressive antioxidant potential in tree nuts.

Researchers find nut benefits
Intensive tree nut studies have uncovered an array of antioxidant chemicals including lignans, napthoquinones, phenolic acids, phytosterols, polyphenols, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and tocopherols that can reduce inflammation in the blood, lower cholesterol, act against viral invasion, and protect the body from tumor growth.

Because we now know that antioxidants can scavenge and prevent unstable molecules called free radicals from destroying our cells, we can take joy in devouring a delicious handful or two of tree nuts every day to reap the many benefits from their excellent antioxidant properties.

In a 2009-study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Diet, researchers tested thirteen subjects to study the effect of a polyphenol-rich diet of walnuts or almonds on the blood. The subjects fasted overnight, had blood tests, and then were given either a walnut or almond smoothie or one that contained no nuts. After a week, each participant switched to a different smoothie, and each time, blood was tested several times after beverage consumption. Researchers found a noticeable increase in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, after subjects consumed the nut-based smoothies, but no change following the nut-free beverage. Noted were a significant increase in total antioxidant capacity and a reduction of blood oxidation in those participants consuming the polyphenol-rich nut smoothie.

Pecans have their own antioxidant story
In another study conducted at Loma Linda University, meals including whole pecans and blended pecans were compared with a control meal with no nuts to test for antioxidant activity. This small trial of sixteen healthy men and women used the crossover method where participants were given each meal at controlled intervals with a week in-between. Blood levels of tocopherals, the vitamin E antioxidant, doubled in those consuming whole and blended pecans, while antioxidant levels increased 12% and 10% respectively two hours after consumption. After meals including whole pecans, LDL oxidation decreased considerably after consumption. Triglycerides decreased only after the participants ate whole or blended pecans in their meals.

Chemistry Professor Joe Vinson, Ph.D. presented his research at a meeting of The American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California in March 2011 showing that walnuts have more high-quality antioxidants than any other nuts. “Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts,” said Dr. Vinson. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don’t eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet.”

To roast or not to roast
After Dr. Vinson’s analysis compared the antioxidants in walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans, he found antioxidants highest in raw, unroasted nuts. Vinson says, “The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants. People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants.”

When nuts are commercially roasted in added fats, like partially hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats or coconut or palm oils that are high in saturated fats, they raise the risk of heart disease by elevating the bad cholesterol that can deposit plaque in the arteries. Commercially roasted nuts may also be roasted at high temperatures that possibly damage or reduce antioxidant levels.

Differing opinions persist regarding antioxidant loss when roasting nuts. An inquiry to the California Walnut Commission turned up this response from their nutrition consultant, registered dietician Carol Berg Sloan, “We have had independent nutrient analysis done on raw and toasted walnuts and there is no change in the nutrient profile.”

Plant chemicals in nuts improve heart health
Dr. Joan Sabate, professor of nutrition at Loma Linda University, and colleagues examined 25 nut studies from other countries. Their nut research has shown that regular consumption of nuts reduces the risk of coronary heart disease in several ways: lowering cholesterol levels, improving endothelial function, lowering oxidation in the blood, and reducing lipoprotein(a) levels. The researchers focused both on subjects with normal and high cholesterol and noted that nut consumption led to a marked improvement in both HDL and triglyceride levels. Along with their exceptional nutritional qualities, nuts contain an array of phytonutrients or plant chemicals with high antioxidant capacity.

An almond study at Tufts University unveiled 20 powerful antioxidant flavonoids in almond skins. Some of the flavonoids were the same antioxidants found in familiar foods like green tea that contains catechins and grapefruit that includes naringenin. The research team tested the antioxidants separately and together on blood samples that contained LDL cholesterol. Flavonoids in the almond skins improved the LDL resistance to oxidation by 18%, but when tested together with vitamin E in the meat of the almond, the resistance to oxidation increased by 52.5%. This research illustrates the benefits of the synergy that occur in nature and the importance of eating the whole nut, including the skin.

Which nuts lead the antioxidant parade?
Of all the tree nuts, walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts contain the greatest amount of antioxidants. Although peanuts are technically legumes, they are nutritionally similar to nuts. Like walnuts, peanuts are packed with high levels of antioxidants. Be sure to consume nuts whole to gain their full benefit, since much of the antioxidants are contained in the skins.

Antioxidants and plant chemicals are not the only healthful attributes of nuts. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, a quality that has placed them in the USDA MyPyramid Dietary Guidelines for Americans alongside meat, poultry, and fish. Nuts are also a powerhouse of minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, and copper that work as a cooperative team to bring excellent health and maximum immune function to the body.

Go nuts for nuts sake
It’s easy to include nuts in the diet. Nut researchers are now finding that two handfuls a day of tree nuts are better than one at delivering health benefits. Enjoy them as a snack, sprinkled in salads, blended into smoothies, ground into salad dressings, blended into nut milk, or included in muffins, cookies, and confections.

Buy them raw and keep them in the refrigerator for freshness. Though people tend to gravitate to one or two favorites, they will benefit from a variety of nuts because each kind contains different quantities of minerals, good fats, and beneficial antioxidants.

To enjoy roasted nuts, consider roasting them at a low temperature to preserve their valuable vitamin E and antioxidant flavonoid and polyphenol contents. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and dry roast them at 150 to 170 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a dish to cool and taste their exceptional flavor and pleasantly crisp texture.

References:
Antonio AL, Ferreira IC, Bento A, Botelho ML. “Influence of Gamma Irradiation in the Antioxidant Potential of Chestnuts (Castanea sativa Mill.) Fruits and Skins.” Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2011 Feb 28.

Barreira, J.C.M., Ferreira, I.C.F.R., Oliveira, M.B.P.P., and Pereira, J.A. “Antioxidant Activities of the Extracts from Chestnut Flower, Leaf, Skins, and Fruit”. Food Chemistry: 104:(3), 1106-1113.

Bolling, B.W., McKay, D.L., Blumberg, J.B. “The Phytochemical Composition and Antioxidant Actions of Tree Nuts.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010; 19(1):117-123.

Chen, C.Y., Milbury, P.E., Lapsley, K., Blumberg, J.B. Flavonoids from Almond Skins are Bioavailable and Act Synergistically with Vitamins C and E to Enhance Hamster and Human LDL Resistance to Oxidation. Journal of Nutrition. 2005; 135(6):1366-73.

“Chestnuts. Antioxidants. Gamma Irradiation.” http://nutraceutical.sujanani.com/news/?p=25001719

“Chestnuts.”belly bytes: where it’s all about food. http://www.bellybytes.com/food/chestnuts.html

Hudthagosol, C., Haddad, E.H., McCarthy, K., Want, P., Oda, K., Sabate, J. “Pecans Acutely Increase Plasma Postprandial Antioxidant Capacity and Catechins and Decrease LDL Oxidation in Humans.” Journal of Nutrition. 2011. Jan: 141(1): 56-62.

“Professor Vinson’s Research Shows Walnuts as ‘Top Nut’ for Heart-Healthy Antioxidants.” The University of Scranton. March 29, 2011. http://matrix.scranton.edu/news/articles/2011/03/Professor-Vinson-Antioxidants.shtml

Sabate, J., Oda, Keiji, Ros, Emilio. “Nut Consumption and Blood Lipid Levels; A Pooled Analysis of 25 Intervention Trials.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 2010;170(9):821-827.

Sloan, Carol Berg, RD. “Roasting Walnuts.” Email from the author responding to my inquiry to the California Walnut Commission about whether roasting walnuts lowers their antioxidant levels. 15 May 2011.

Torabian S, Haddad E, Rajaram S, Banta Jim, Sabaté J. “Acute Effect of Nut Consumption on Plasma Total Polyphenols, Antioxidant Capacity and Lipid Peroxidation in Healthy Volunteers.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Diet 2009, 22:64-71.

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, chestnuts, Nut Nutrition, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, pecans, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

BRAZIL NUTS: THE DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE OF THE NUT WORLD

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on April 30, 2010

For many years I’ve known that consuming one Brazil nut a day supplies the human body with its daily requirement for selenium, an important trace mineral high in antioxidants. But here’s what I recently learned that gave me a bit of a jolt. Recent studies show that while Brazil nuts have many positive attributes, they also have a hidden side that sparked researchers to express cautionary advice.

I turn to nature rather than food manufacturers to provide the most nourishing foods for human consumption. I’m also cognizant that we humans absorb our vitamins and minerals best from pure, natural foods rather than from synthetically manufactured supplements. Human nature is kind of funny, though. We often have a tendency to believe that if a small amount of a nutrient-dense food or supplement is good for us, wouldn’t gobbling down double, triple, or five times the amount be even better?

That theory works well for some foods, like dark leafy greens, but it doesn’t apply across the board. That mind-set is especially problematic when it comes to Brazil nuts.


The good news
On the positive side, Brazil nuts, like all nuts, are highly nutritious and densely packed with minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc. Brazil nuts also possess trace amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin in the B vitamin family, along with healthy levels of folate and vitamin E. Clearly, these nuts are remarkably nutritious.

Brazil nuts stand apart from all other nuts with their exceptionally high levels of selenium. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for selenium for adults 19 years and up is 55 micrograms a day. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, one Brazil nut delivers 95.8 micrograms of selenium, well over the daily requirement for the mineral.

In comparison, other nuts do not even come close to measuring up. Pine nuts contain the least selenium, registering only 0.2 micrograms for one ounce, while cashews weigh in with 5.6 micrograms per ounce, the highest quantity after Brazil nuts.

A randomized controlled study conducted at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that consuming two Brazil nuts daily is as effective in boosting selenium levels in the blood as taking selenomethionine, a synthetic selenium supplement. The group that ate two Brazil nuts a day also measured higher in antioxidant levels than those taking the supplement. Selenium, required only in small amounts, helps the body to produce antioxidant enzymes that protect the cells from free radical damage. Study authors also found that those with adequate levels of selenium in the blood have a reduced risk for breast and prostate cancer.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study, known as the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer trial noted that in populations where selenium consumption was low, there was a rise in the incidence of cancer. The long-term trial involving 1312 individuals found supplementation with selenium reduced the total cancer incidence by 48% to 63%, especially prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer. Generally, the dietary selenium levels in the U.S. population are considered good. The trial was conducted where dietary levels were poor. Considering the results of the study conducted at the University of Otago, two Brazil nuts a day may have been equally as effective in this population as the selenium supplement.

Selenium is found in the soil where plant foods can absorb it through their root systems. Other plant-based foods high in natural selenium include most nuts, whole grains like corn, wheat, oats, and rice, along with foods of the legume family, including soybeans.

An exceptional plus for Brazil nuts is their high level of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase (GPx), that may bestow benefits on our health in multiple ways:

• Boosting the immune system
• Protecting from cardiovascular disease
• Improving fertility
• Helping ward off the growth of cancerous cells
• Increasing thyroid metabolism

Not only does our immune function work best when selenium levels are adequate, but the mineral is an important component that prevents deficiencies that could impair thyroid function.

The bad news
In spite of their many positive qualities, Brazil nuts might be considered the bad boys of the nut family. Because Brazil nuts have an exceptionally high concentration of phytic acid, measuring 2% to 6% in their hulls, they might interfere with the absorption of some nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. While their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol when ingested in small quantities, Brazil nuts high level of saturated fat (25%) could possibly raise cholesterol levels if the nuts are consumed in large quantities.

Overdosing on selenium can cause a toxic condition known as selenosis, leaving patients with a host of nasty symptoms like hair loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, sloughing of the fingernails, fatigue, irritability, and nerve damage. Less common are cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure.

While a 12-week study of 60 volunteers published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2008, found that study participants consuming two Brazil nuts a day had higher levels of selenium compared with those consuming a 100-microgram supplement or taking a placebo, the research concluded with a cautionary message.

Professor Christine Thomson, Department of Human Nutrition University of Otago, says, “People should be careful to limit themselves to no more than a few Brazil nuts per day, otherwise selenium could potentially accumulate to toxic levels in body tissues. Also, as the nuts can contain relatively high amounts of the elements barium and thorium, people should avoid eating too many as it is still unclear what intake of these elements might be harmful.”

Another study, prompted by the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey, was conducted because of concern that the average selenium consumption in the UK is far below the recommended levels of 75 micrograms per day for men and 60 micrograms for women.

Several studies have shown an association of high levels of selenium in the blood and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and risk of heart disease. Researchers at the Warwick Medical School in Coventry, England, conducted an observational study involving 1,042 individuals, aged 19 to 64, to measure how selenium levels in the blood compared to their blood cholesterol status. In this UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey conducted 2000 to 2001, participants’ blood selenium was measured, and they were asked specific lifestyle questions about diet and alcohol consumption.

The findings revealed that participants with 1.20 micromols (about 94 micrograms) of selenium in the blood showed an average 8 percent rise in total cholesterol and a 10 percent rise in LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol associated with heart disease. Study authors noted that while these results raise concerns, they were unable to show positively that increased selenium levels in the blood were the cause of the jump in cholesterol levels or whether it was due to other factors. Those individuals who tested in the upper levels of selenium in the blood revealed they were regularly taking selenium supplements.

Lead author Dr. Saverio Stranges says, “The cholesterol increases we have identified may have important implications for public health. In fact, such a difference could translate into a large number of premature deaths from coronary heart disease.” Dr. Stranges expressed further concern, “We believe that the widespread use of selenium supplements, or of any other strategy that artificially increases selenium status above the level required, is unwarranted at the present time. Further research is needed to examine the full range of health effects of increased selenium, whether beneficial or detrimental.”

Study authors also examined the levels of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase and found that those with the higher levels of selenium in their blood had an 8 to 10 percent increase in total cholesterol.

When published studies revealed that selenium may be able to fight off cancer, the news sparked interest in the mineral and created a demand for the supplements. However, there still remains no definitive evidence that the antioxidants in selenium can prevent such diseases.

While a handful-a-day of most nuts is beneficial in raising antioxidant levels and effective in lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels, the handful-a-day mantra is off the table for Brazil nuts. Stick with the recommended quantity of one or two Brazil nuts per day. A whole handful of the nuts could easily boost one’s blood selenium to unhealthy levels.

As much as I love nuts and consider them a healthy food source for my everyday diet, I have adopted the safe mantra that nut researchers conclude in study after study: A LITTLE BIT GOES A LONG WAY. In the case of Brazil nuts, eat one or two nuts a day, then, STOP.

References:
“Brazil Nuts Health Benefits.” Suite101.com.
http://food-facts.suite101.com/article.cfm/brazil_nuts_health_benefits

“Eating Just Two Brazil Nuts a Day Ensures Adequate Selenium Levels.” Health Freedom Alliance.
http://healthfreedoms.org/2009/05/27/eating-just-two-brazil-nuts-a-day-ensures-adequate-selenium-levels

Jackson, Malcolm J., Caroline S. Broome, and Francis McArdle. “Marginal Dietary Selenium Intakes in the UK: are There Functional Consequences?” The American Society for Nutritional Sciences. Supplement: 11th International Symposium on Trace Elements in Man and Animals. The Journal of Nutrition, 133:1557S-1559S, May 2003

“Selenium.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selenium

Stranges, Saverio, Martin Laclaustra, Chen Ji, Francesco P. Cappuccio, Ana Navas-Acien, Jose M. Ordovas, Margaret Rayman, and Eliseo Guallar. “Higher Selenium Status is Associated with Adverse Blood Lipid Profile in British Adults.” Journal of Nutrition. doi:10.3945/jn.109.111252, November 11, 2009.

Thompson Christine .D., Alexandra Chisholm, Sarah K. McLachlan, and Jennifer M. Campbell. “Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 87, No 2, 379-384, February 2008

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Brazil nuts, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 78 Comments »

THE POWER OF THE FEW

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 21, 2010

I’m back and nutty as ever! No, I haven’t abandoned my post at the NutGourmet—just took a little holiday break to spend time with family and friends and cook up a flurry of great munchies I’ll share in future blog posts.

Now, I’ve returned with a fresh vigor and a feverish desire to share the nutty pleasures. Sometimes I bemoan the fact that nuts are not exactly dirt-cheap. Then, on the other hand, maybe that’s a good thing because many of us would probably be tempted to gorge on massive amounts of them. That would be a bad thing. How bad?

What constitutes a healthy level of nut consumption? The key is to remember there is awesome power in “just a little.” That “just a little” means there are potent benefits in consuming as few as one to three ounces of nuts a day. Translate that to the equivalent of about one or two generous handfuls.

Some might be thinking that limiting oneself to just one or two ounces of nuts a day may actually feel like utter deprivation. In truth, that small quantity is actually achieving a perfectly healthy ideal. It never ceases to amaze me that such a small quantity packs a big wallop in knocking down high cholesterol and blood pressure and reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.

At the December 2009 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, attendees learned from researchers at Texas Woman’s University – Houston Center that a mere two ounces of pistachios a day boosted levels of gamma- tocopherol, a natural form of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E. The authors acknowledge higher levels of gamma-tocopherol may offer protection against certain forms of cancer, namely lung and prostate cancer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. In 2005, the guidelines suggested incorporating 1.5 ounces of nuts such as hazelnuts into the diet several times per week. They suggest hazelnuts are a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, folate, B vitamins and minerals that may play a role in lowering blood pressure. Hazelnuts are high in beneficial monounsaturated fats and only contain 4 percent saturated fats.

Just two handfuls of walnuts a day was the catchphrase of a study looking to inhibit the growth of breast cancer tumors in mice. W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington, West Virginia, gives the omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols in walnuts a thumbs up for their ability to block the progression of tumors and suggests the compounds contained in walnuts could slow down the growth of breast cancer in humans.

A study cited in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology demonstrated that just eight walnuts eaten at the end of a meal may be better than olive oil in helping to prevent damage to the delicate lining of the arteries. Walnuts were compared with olive oil in a study conducted at Barcelona’s Hospital Clinico and were found to better retain the elasticity and flexibility of the arteries when necessary to expand and increase blood flow. While many people turning to the Mediterranean diet credit the olive oil for the heart healthy focus, they miss the true hero—the little handful of walnuts.

Must one conclude that nuts are truly a miracle food? No, they certainly are not. Nuts are merely one of many of the highly nutritious plant-based foods that help us to stay healthy and assist us in returning to a state of health when we’ve fallen into the pit of chronic disease.

There really are no miracle foods, though many food purveyors work hard to convince people their product is theeee one to repair all the health ills and provide a cure-all. The power of the few remains the steadfast mantra referring to all whole, plant-based foods consumed in smaller portions than Americans have become accustomed to consuming. Feasting is best saved for special occasions.

For the daily diet, the power of a few nuts along with comfortable and reasonable portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and seeds brings impressive results in a surprisingly short time.

The following measurements comprise a one-ounce serving of nuts:

20 to 24 ALMONDS

6 to 8 BRAZIL NUTS

16 to 18 CASHEWS

18 to 20 FILBERTS (HAZELNUTS)

10 to 12 MEDIUM MACADAMIAS

28 SHELLED PEANUTS

18 to 20 PECAN HALVES

150 to 157 PINE NUTS (PIGNOLI)

45 to 47 PISTACHIOS

14 WALNUT HALVES

1 tablespoon PUMPKIN SEEDS

1 medium-size handful SESAME SEEDS

3 tablespoons SHELLED SUNFLOWER SEEDS

References:
Almond Board of California–http://www.almondsarein.com

American Association for Cancer Research “Walnut consumption decreases mammary gland tumor incidence, multiplicity and growth in the C(3) Tag transgenic mouse” AACR 2009; Abstract LB-247.

California Pistachio Association–http://www.pistachios.org

The Hazelnut Council–http://www.hazelnutcouncil.org

Hernandez, M.S. American Association for Cancer Research (2009. December 9). Pistachios may reduce lung cancer risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208191956.htm

International Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation http://www.nuthealth.org

National Pecan Shellers Association–http://www.ilovepecans.org

Peanut Advisory Board–http://www.peanutbutterlovers.com

The Peanut Institute–http://www.peanut-institute.org

Ros, Emilio. “Eating walnuts at the end of a meal may help cut the damage that fatty food can do to the arteries” Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2006/10/10 09:38:33 GMT

The Walnut Marketing Board–http://www.walnut.org

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, hazelnuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Organizations, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

BEAT METABOLIC SYNDROME WITH NUTS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 19, 2009

A beautiful summer lunch or a delicious light dinner, this tasty salad has eye appeal, flavor satisfaction, and health benefits to boot. Many health studies that focused on lowering cholesterol show that a small amount of nuts, about 1.5 to 3 ounces daily, can result in lowered cholesterol, especially when the nuts replace other saturated fats in the diet.

Hazelnuts became an effective remedy in a study conducted at the University of Rovira I Virgili, Spain, that examined the effects of nuts on a Mediterranean diet in those who showed signs of metabolic syndrome. The researchers of the randomized trial divided the patients into three groups, each following a Mediterranean diet: a low-fat control group, a group with added olive oil, and a third group that ate nuts in place of the added olive oil.

The nut-consuming group was given packets containing 30 grams of nuts to be eaten daily, a measurement that equals slightly over 1 ounce. The nuts were a combination of hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds. There were no restrictions on calorie intake. The researchers followed the participants for one year and concluded the nut group showed a decrease in metabolic syndrome of 13.7%, while the olive oil group decreased 6.7%, and the control group decreased only 2%.

Other studies suggest that eating nuts regularly show benefits for weight loss, lowered insulin resistance, lower LDL cholesterol, and lowered risk for cardiovascular heart disease.

Because nuts are so delicious and versatile, they’re easy to include in the daily diet. Enjoy!

stufftomato

STUFFED TOMATOES WITH ROASTED NUTS

Yield: 4 servings

1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup hazelnuts

3 to 4 zucchinis, coarsely chopped (about 4 to 5 cups)
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper

4 lettuce leaves

4 large tomatoes

1/2 avocado, mashed or thinly sliced
4 black olives (Kalamata, salt-cured, or regular)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the hazelnuts and pecans on separate baking sheets and roast for 10 minutes. Pour the pecans onto a dish to cool. Pour the roasted hazelnuts onto a kitchen towel, wrap it up, and set aside for 10 minutes. Rub the hazelnuts in the towel vigorously to remove some of the skins and set aside to cool. Place both nuts in a zipper-lock plastic bag and coarsely chop them with a hammer. Transfer them to a large bowl and set aside.
2. Separately, place the zucchinis, carrot, and bell pepper into the food processor and process until finely minced, but not pureed. Add them to the bowl with the nuts.
3. Add the lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper and mix well. Adjust seasonings, if needed.
4. Line 4 plates with the lettuce leaves. Create tomato flowers by placing them with the stem end down on the cutting board. Cut 8 wedges but don’t cut all the way through. Gently spread the wedges to create a bed for the nut and vegetable stuffing. Place a tomato flower on each lettuce-lined plate.
5. Divide the stuffing between the tomatoes and stuff the tomato flowers, placing some of the stuffing between the wedges. Garnish with the avocado and top with a black olive.

Reference:

Salas-Salvado, Jordi, et al. “Effect of a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented With Nuts on Metabolic Syndrome Status. One-year results of the PREDIMED randomized trial.” Archives of Internal Medicine 168 (2008): 2,449-2,458.

Posted in almonds, hazelnuts, Nut Recipes, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ONLY A NUT LIKE ME . . .

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 6, 2009

Only a nut like me could get ecstatic about the Northern Nut Growers Association celebrating its 100th annual meeting from July 19 to July 23, 2009 at Purdue University in Indiana. Imagine—an organization in existence for 100 years and still going strong.
chestnut4
And I’m a devout devotee of The American Chestnut Foundation, an organization with high hopes of soon restoring the American chestnut to its once lush forests along the Appalachian slopes using scientific breeding and backcrossing methods to produce a blight-resistant American chestnut.

Both organizations work with passion and dedication to researching, planting, breeding, and growing the best tasting, most nutritious nuts in the world. And because of their research, amazing developments in health science have come to the forefront. And I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a nut groupie who loves to read their newsletters.
hazelnut
Here’s some awesome news. The researchers at the University of Portland in Oregon discovered that the nuts, shells, leaves, limbs, and bark of the hazelnut tree produce a chemical called paclitaxel. Even the fungi that attack the hazelnut tree produce paclitaxel. That’s big news because paclitaxel is the active ingredient in the drug taxol, manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and used for treating patients with breast or ovarian cancer and the AIDS-related cancer Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Until now, the drug was manufactured by extraction from the needles of the yew tree, a very costly process. With the discovery of paclitaxel contained in the hazelnut tree, nut growers now have a greater motivation to produce the varieties of hazelnut trees that contain the greatest quantities of the chemical. While hazelnuts contain some paclitaxel, eating them won’t offer sufficient quantities to offer treatment. The drug’s potency comes from a larger concentration of paclitaxel.

I was delighted to discover a recent study by the Mayo Clinic, published June 5, 2009 on their website, confirming that eating nuts regularly in small amounts, about 1.5 ounces a day, is good for the heart. The article, referenced below, quotes the Food and Drug Administration’s July 2003 statement that says evidence “suggests but does not prove” that eating nuts reduces heart disease risk.

The Mayo Clinic says the variety of nut is not what matters. It’s that nuts, in general, contain a combination of such valuable components like mono and polyunsaturated fats, L. arginine, fiber, vitamin E, and plant sterols that work together to lower cholesterol, especially the LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk of developing blood clots that often cause fatal heart attacks. The amino acid L. arginine in nuts benefits the arteries by keeping them flexible to allow better blood flow. Plant sterols that naturally occur in nuts are plant fats that help to lower cholesterol by preventing its absorption during the process of digestion.

Instead of consuming less healthy snacks, the Mayo Clinic suggests those with heart disease would benefit from eating nuts instead that can help patients focus on a more heart-healthy diet.

To help keep you on the path to good health, here’s a tasty recipe for an easy summer sandwich that features hazelnuts, carrots, and healthy, fiber-rich whole grain bread.

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These tasty hazelnut-studded sandwiches can be quickly assembled for a spontaneous picnic outing. Include a bean salad packed with chopped veggies, fresh fruit, and some vegan cookies, and you’ve got the makings of a great meal outdoors. For a stay-at-home light lunch, present the sandwiches with flair by cutting them into quarters and garnishing the plate with a fruit salsa.
nuttycarrot
NUTTY CARROT SANDWICH

Yield: 4 sandwiches

3 large carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
2/3 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped in the food processor
6 to 8 stuffed green olives, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

8 slices whole-grain bread
16 to 20 whole fresh basil or mint leaves

1. Combine the carrots, hazelnuts, green olives, and garlic in a medium bowl. Add enough vegan mayonnaise to moisten them well and hold the ingredients together.
2. Spread one side of each slice of bread with a light coating of mayonnaise, and spoon the nutty carrot mixture on 4 of the slices. Arrange the basil or mint leaves over the carrot mixture and top with the remaining bread.

Note:
For richer flavor, roast the hazelnuts. To roast, place the nuts on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the nuts and pour them onto a kitchen towel. Wrap them in the towel and set aside for 10 minutes. Roll the nuts in the towel vigorously to remove some of the skins and set aside to cool completely. Chop the nuts coarsely in the food processor or place them in a zipper-lock plastic bag and pound them gently with a hammer until coarsely chopped.

References:

drbriffa. A good look at good health. Evidence supports the incorporation of nuts in the diet. May 21, 2009.
http://www.drbriffa.com/blog/2009/05/21/evidence-supports-the-incorporation-of-nuts-in-the-diet

Mayo Clinic staff. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health. MayoClinic.com. June 5, 2009.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nuts/HB00085/NSECTIONGROUP=2

Science Daily, April 11, 2000. Potent Anticancer Agent Found in Hazelnuts. Plant Could Become Alternative Source of Taxol Precursor.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000410084755.htm

Susman, Ed. StopGettingSick.com Going Nuts over Paclitaxel
http://www.stopgettingsick.com/template.cfm-1572

Posted in Celebrations, chestnuts, hazelnuts, Nut Growing, Nut Nutrition, Nut Organizations, Nut Recipes, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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