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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
drbriffa. A good look at good health. Evidence supports the incorporation of nuts in the diet. May 21, 2009.
Mayo Clinic staff. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health. MayoClinic.com. June 5, 2009.
Science Daily, April 11, 2000. Potent Anticancer Agent Found in Hazelnuts. Plant Could Become Alternative Source of Taxol Precursor.
Susman, Ed. StopGettingSick.com Going Nuts over Paclitaxel