Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘macadamia nuts’

MACADAMIA NUTS ON TRIAL

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

Macadamia nuts are frequently treated as outcasts, shunned because they’re charged with being TOO HIGH IN FAT. Even the FDA refused to include them on the list of nuts they considered acceptable for health claims. Do macadamias need to prove their innocent goodness with a trial?

Fear and uncertainty have caused people to hesitate before reaching for a handful of delicious, creamy macadamia nuts. But should we really hesitate to put trust in one of nature’s wondrous foods? Convincing scientific trials claim multiple health benefits from munching on a handful of macadamias a day. No trial is actually needed, but a nod from scientific studies can often clear up confusing information and reassure us about a food’s health benefits.

Several studies since 2000 have proven that macadamia nuts CAN be included in a heart healthy diet. Macadamia, like all plant foods, have no cholesterol, but they do contain 75% total fat, 80% of which is monounsaturated. This high level of fat would naturally be a concern to anyone trying to avoid excess fat in his or her diet. But these nuts possess amazing properties that actually lower cholesterol in spite of their high fat levels.
macadamia
Their high fat level also scares people who want to watch their weight or have a few pounds to lose. Several study authors expressed the same concern but found their study subjects actually lost a few pounds or stabilized their weight in macadamia trials.

Macadamias Lower Cholesterol

In a study in the April 14, 2008 issue of Science Daily, lead researcher Dr. Amy E. Griel of Penn State conducted a five-week cholesterol-lowering trial on male and female subjects with mildly elevated cholesterol by comparing the standard American diet with a diet substituting 1.5 ounces of macadamias for some of the fat and protein. Researchers matched the diets for fat content and reported the macadamia diet significantly lowered total cholesterol by 9.4 percent and LDL cholesterol by 8.9 percent compared with the standard American diet. The results were defining and the researchers stated that including macadamias in the diet lowered overall cardiovascular disease risk.

Because macadamia orchards are cultivated in diverse locations, the macadamia nut became a natural study subject in those regions. The University of Hawaii conducted a macadamia study in 2001 and reported similar success showing their participants consuming the macadamias decreased their total and LDL cholesterol when compared with those in the control group who followed the American Heart Association Step 1 Diet.

Macadamia nuts were the subject of a recent study conducted at the University of Newcastle in Australia and reported in the journal Lipids in 2007. The four-week study of 17 male participants with elevated cholesterol included 40 to 90 grams a day of macadamias. Researchers were looking specifically at blood markers for inflammation, coagulation, and arterial oxidation. The study authors found significantly lower blood markers of inflammation and oxidation. At the conclusion, the researchers suggested that regular consumption of macadamia nuts may play a role in reducing the biomarkers of oxidative stress, thrombosis, and inflammation, the typical risk factors for coronary artery disease.

Reduce Coronary Artery Risk

While the macadamia’s rich fats proved successful in reducing coronary artery risk, researchers felt there may be other bioactive factors aside from the monounsaturated fatty acids that were imparting impressive health benefits. Examining more closely, they found the monounsaturated fats contain oleic acid, known as Omega 9, a beneficial fat found in other foods like avocados, almonds, and olive oil. Oleic acid is a naturally heart protective fat that helps to maintain the function and flexibility of the cell structure.
macadamia2
Findings at a 2002 macadamia conference in Australia show that the nuts contain plant sterols, which are natural plant fats found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds and play a role in lowering elevated blood cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Macadamias also contain palmitoleic acid, which makes up almost one-third of the content of monounsaturated fat. According to cardiologist Dr. Ross Walker at Walker Health Resources in Australia, “The palmitoleic acid in macadamias works to stabilize, the rhythm in the heart. Omega 3 fatty acids and the palmitoleic acid in macadamias settles the heart down.” He also believes that if you are prone to heart disease or to irregular heartbeats, you would benefit from a daily dose of 10 to 15 macadamias and reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Health Claims for Nuts

In July 2003, the FDA issued the following health claim statement: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, some pine nuts, and walnuts) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

The FDA’s list of approved nuts for this health claim does not presently include macadamias because they exceed the limit of 4 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts. Macadamias contain 6 grams of saturated fat for the 50 grams, but researchers studying macadamias suggested they should be included considering their significant health benefits.

Over the years several studies agree that macadamia nuts are effective in the prevention of coronary artery disease and stressed they should be included in the daily diet by substituting them for other saturated-fat-containing foods. Aside from their multiple heart-health advantages, macadamias are just plain good eating and are an excellent source of high protein, high fiber, and healthful plant fats that make them a nutritious food. Enjoy macadamia nuts and reap the benefits.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Macadamias, Nut Nutrition, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

YIN YANG NUTTY ADVENTURE!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on March 3, 2009

While my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet, was in the editing process, my editor suggested I include some bean spreads made with nuts. That was a great idea I hadn’t even thought of. It was my husband who came up with the idea of putting a dark bean recipe and a light bean recipe together to form the yin yang symbol. Wow! Another great suggestion I could instantly picture in my mind.

nutgourmetcover1

That very afternoon my kitchen was buzzing with the food processor in full gear as I concocted the recipe below. It makes a great party dish that can be prepared a day ahead and always gets conversation flowing.

If you’re a bit intimidated by the artistic aspect, set that fear aside and simply enjoy two separate spreads that make delicious party food. Both recipes can serve as a sandwich filling, an endive filled appetizer, stuffing for a mushroom appetizer, or just a succulent spread over whole grain bread, pita, bagels, or crackers.

Nuts Boost Nutrition

Nutritionally, you can’t beat beans for their wonderful high protein, high fiber, and generous soluble fiber that help to lower cholesterol. Besides, they’re downright satisfying.

With the addition of nuts, you’ve got an even better nutrition boost. Macadamias contain the highest level of monounsaturated fats of all the nuts. That’s the good fat that helps to lower cholesterol. And walnuts are king of the omega 3 essential fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation in the arteries and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.

Now, what’s with the yin yang treatment? The symbol has Taoist origins. The circular form represents the universe, while the dark and light colors suggest opposites in the universe. And since nothing in this world is all black or all white, a small white dot appears in the dark portion and a small black dot accents the light section.

The macadamia-filled Chunky Cannellini Mac Spread sings a masculine hot, light, and
active yang song while the Walnutty Black Bean Spread balances with a feminine, cool, dark, and passive yin song.

While famous sculptors used a hammer and chisel to create their artistic form, my tool of choice is nothing more than the simple spoon. Here’s to delicious eats and a touch of creative joy!
yinyang
YIN-YANG NUTTY BEAN SPREAD

Yield: about 4 cups

Chunky Cannellini Mac Spread
3/4 cup raw macadamia nuts

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1. Place the macadamia nuts into the food processor and process briefly to break the nuts into smaller chunks.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process until thick and slightly chunky. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.
3. If you prefer a smoother spread, first process the macadamia nuts into a paste in the food processor. Then add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
4. Transfer to one side of a serving dish and set it aside. Wash and dry the processor work bowl and blade.

Walnutty Black Bean Spread
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup raw walnuts
1 tablespoon umeboshi plum vinegar *
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dried onion flakes

1. Combine the beans, walnuts, vinegar, water, cumin, chili powder, and salt in the food processor and process until smooth. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.
2. Add the onion flakes and pulse until they are incorporated. Transfer to the serving dish beside the Chunky Cannellini Mac Spread, and work with the back of a spoon to form the two spreads into the yin-yang symbol. Begin by forming the Chunky Cannellini Mac Spread first. Then, the Walnutty Black Bean Spread will fall right into place. Covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator, leftover Yin-Yang Nutty Bean Spread will keep for about one week.

* Umeboshi plum vinegar is a unique vinegar made from the brine used to salt and pickle ume plums used in macrobiotic cooking. The vinegar has a tangy, salty, and delicately sweet flavor and is used sparingly as a seasoning. You can find this item in natural food markets but can easily substitute with seasoned rice vinegar.

Posted in Bean Recipes, Macadamias, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TREASURE IN A NUTSHELL

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 7, 2009

I thought it might be helpful to have an overview of the nutritional highlights of tree nuts. While this listing is certainly a good quick reference, it only scratches the surface of the plethora of health benefits nuts have to offer.

It may seem that I’m promoting nuts as some sort of miracle food. Not so. I’m just recognizing nuts are one of Mother Nature’s many gems that are packed with goodness, especially when paired with other foods that are nutrient-dense and low in saturated fats.

In the information below there may be some terms that are unfamiliar. Here is a brief explanation:

Arginine –an amino acid that changes into nitric oxide that relaxes blood vessels and permits better blood flow. May help alleviate coronary artery disease like chest pain and clogged arteries (called atherosclerosis).

Phytosterols – natural plant fats found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that benefits the body by interfering with the absorption of excess cholesterol

Antioxidants – combination of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes found in plant foods that prevents our tissues from oxidation that leads to degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease

Tryptophan – an essential amino acid the body can’t manufacture and must get from food. Necessary for normal growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults. Used by the body to help make niacin and serotonin. Serotonin thought to produce healthy sleep and a stable mood

Folate – also known as folic acid or folacin, a form of the water-soluble Vitamin B9. Occurs naturally in food and can also be taken as a supplement. Helps prevent neural tube birth defects.

ALMONDS

    almond• Lower cholesterol, especially LDL (bad cholesterol)
    • Decrease risk for coronary heart disease
    • Lower risk for diabetes
    • Promote weight control
    • Good source of phytosterols
    • Excellent source of arginine
    • High in protein,
    • High in monounsaturated fats
    • High in minerals: calcium, iron, zinc, potassium,
    • High in vitamin E.
    • High in arginine
    • Packed with antioxidants

BRAZIL NUTS

    brazilnut• Provide powerful antioxidants
    • Highest level of selenium of all nuts
    • High in beneficial mono- and polyunsaturated fats
    • High in protein
    • High in minerals: calcium, copper, iron, potassium, and zinc
    • Source of arginine

CASHEWS

    cashew• Source of arginine
    • High in beneficial monounsaturated fat
    • High in protein
    • High in minerals: copper, potassium
    • High in folate
    • Help to lower cholesterol and decrease risk for coronary heart disease
    • Contain the highest levels of zinc of any nut
    • Excellent source of phytosterols

CHESTNUTS

    chestnut21• Super low in fats, especially saturated fat
    • High in B vitamins, good level of folate
    • The only nut to contain healthy level of vitamin C
    • Promote weight loss
    • Protect the heart
    • Lower cholesterol

HAZELNUTS

    hazelnut2• Contain the highest levels of copper of any nut
    • Protect the bones and blood vessels
    • High in minerals: calcium, potassium, zinc
    • High in folate
    • Lower cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol
    • High in heart-protective vitamin E
    • High in fiber
    • Good source of phytosterols
    • Loaded with antioxidants

MACADAMIAS

    macadamia• Highest in beneficial monounsaturated fats
    • Highest in B vitamins of all nuts
    • High in phytosterols
    • High in fiber
    • Source of arginine

PEANUTS

    peanut2• High in resveratrol a heart-protective antioxidant
    • Promote weight loss
    • Combat prostate cancer
    • Highest in phytosterols
    • Lower cholesterol
    • Highest in arginine of all nuts
    • High in mono- and polyunsaturated fats
    • Good source of protein
    • High in minerals: calcium, iron, potassium, zinc
    • High in B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber

PECANS

    pecan2• Highest in antioxidants of any nut
    • Good levels of phytosterols
    • High in beneficial monounsaturated fat
    • High in minerals: manganese, selenium, and zinc
    • High in B vitamins and heart-healthy vitamin E
    • High in fiber

PINE NUTS

    pinenut3• Excellent source of arginine
    • High in phytosterols
    • Good levels of mono- and polyunsaturated fats to keep cholesterol in check
    • Excellent source of protein
    • High in vitamin E and B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber

PISTACHIOS

    pistachio2• Impressive levels of phytosterols
    • Packed with antioxidants
    • High in beneficial monounsaturated fat.
    • Good source of protein, calcium, iron, copper, and zinc.
    • High in vitamin E and B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber
    • Excellent source of arginine

WALNUTS

    walnut2• Only nut (except butternut) with essential Omega 3 fatty acids
    • Lower cholesterol
    • Combat cancer
    • Boost memory
    • Lift mood
    • Protect against heart disease
    • Help to develop more than 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function
    • High in tryptophan
    • Loaded with antioxidants
    • Good source of arginine
    • Good source of protein
    • Good source of minerals: calcium, copper, iron, zinc
    • High in vitamin E and B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, Macadamias, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nuts and Health, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: