Nuts.

It wasn’t very long ago that nuts were feared. – They were considered a dieting disaster, with far too high a fat and calorie content to be anything but bad for you! Recently though, extensive studies have shown that the opposite is actually the case. – Nuts are incredible for the human body. Recently there have been many health discoveries showing that nuts are a wonderful protein source that are great for everyone, and should be added to our diets.

Yes – nuts contain a lot of fat, and they are relatively loaded with calories considering that they are a plant food. Our understanding of fat has changed, however, and we now know that most of the fat in nuts is polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. These fats aren’t nearly as bad for you as others, aren’t as prone to causing weight gain, and most important of all, actually have the ability to lower your LDL cholesterol
levels. In fact, nuts have actually been shown to be extremely good for your heart – modern studies have concluded that a proper daily amount of nuts can lower your chance for developing heart disease by as much as 35%. – Astounding news for a food that was once feared for it’s possible weight gain and destructive cardiovascular effects.

Nuts are an incredible source of protein. – Protein is very important for our bodies, but unfortunately in a lot of places that it’s commonly found (Such as red meats), getting our recommended protein amounts can have negative side effects on our hearts. This makes nuts wonderful, because you can get a lot of protein from them without worrying about hurting your precious heart. They are especially great for vegans.

Nuts are terrific sources of energy. Protein is an important ingredient for energy, and when combined with the other minerals in nuts make them perfect for providing longer, more constant energy levels. In addition to proteins, nuts also happen to rich in the powerful antioxidants selenium and vitamin E. Anti-oxidants have recently been identified as having powerful anti-aging effects on the body due to their ability to block the damage caused by free-radicals, substances that contribute to early aging.

On studies involving nuts in daily diet, results showed that nearly all forms of nuts had similar effects, though the most beneficial nuts today are generally considered to be peanuts, almonds, and cashews. These studies also suggest that a good daily dosage of nuts be between 1 to 2 ounces to see receive the best benefit. While they are very healthy, nuts can be a rather addicting snack, and combined with their elevated levels of calories can cause weight gain if you don’t exercise a little discipline with your snacking. Fortunately, nuts also satisfy hunger very well.

Overall, nuts are a powerful food that is packed with surprising and astounding benefits. Their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease while protecting against aging and providing solid energy levels makes them a highly desired health food, as long as a person keeps their intake levels low. They are still loaded with calories, and can contribute to weight gain if high levels are consumed on a regular basis. If you keep your intake down, however, you’ll notice remarkable improvements in your health, and you can rest easier at night knowing that you are helping your heart and bettering your chances at escaping cardiovascular disease.

Stress Reduction :

The nutrients in several types of nuts helps protect your body against the damaging physical effects of being stressed out. One study looked at nuts rich in alpha-linolenic acid, like walnuts, and found that they had a heart-protective benefit during times of acute stress – which are known to cause cardiovascular strain. Almonds, thanks to high vitamin E, vitamin B and magnesium content can bolster your immune system when you’re stressed.

Heart Health :

Nuts, like almonds, hazel nuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews all play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. That’s because nuts help reduce LDL cholesterol, and incorporate a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and fiber, which has a heart-protective effect. Nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide in the body and helps blood vessels to relax.

Lung Cancer :

A diet rich in pistachios may provide some protection from lung cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference. The researchers theorize that the nut’s richness in gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E, may be the key to cancer protection, although further research is required.

Weight Maintenance :

The 2013 review of nut health benefits found a modest improvement in overall weight –  several studies have found that nuts can play a role in weight maintenance. That’s because nuts are satisfying – a “high satiety” food  that is metabolized slowly by the body, thanks to high fiber counts. In other words? Snackers are more satisfied after eating nuts than after eating foods of comparable caloric value, but less nutrient density.

Cholesterol :

A walnut a day may keep bad cholesterol away, according to a 2010 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found a 7.4 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol and an 8.3 percent reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL. What’s more, triglyceride concentrations declined by more than 10 percent.

Prostate Cancer :

Brazil nuts, which are high in the mineral selenium, may provide some protection against advanced prostate cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association of Cancer Research. The research was conducted on a Dutch cohort study and found that men with high levels of selenium, tested from toe nails, were 60 percent less likely develop advanced prostate cancer within 17 years.

Brain Health :

Thanks to the healthy dose of vitamin E that nuts can deliver, they are considered a brain food – helping to prevent cognitive decline that happens with age. Peanuts (even though they are legumes, we commonly group them with nuts), in particular, may be a good choice because they are high in the B-vitamin folate, which improves neural health, reducing risk of cognitive decline. Beyond protecting against age-associated problems, a British Journal of Nutrition study found that walnuts improve working memory (not just reference memories), problem-solving and motor function.

Men’s Reproductive Health :

For men looking to start a family, walnuts may have an effect on sperm quality – Eating about two handfuls of nuts, one UCLA study found, could improve the quality of sperm, in terms of its “vitality, motility, and morphology. What’s more, pistachios may play a role in reducing erectile dysfunction, according to a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

So if you do not have an allergy to nuts – please do indulge – they are all good for you. Chop them up – sprinkle over salads and other meals, bake breads, whip up delicious nut butters, creams, milk, cheeses yoghurt’s, dips, sauces and dressings or simply munch as is!

Almonds, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts.

Please do tell us in the comments – what your favourite way to eat nuts is!

~ Active Vegan ~

Raw chocolate mousse!

Try this really quick and easy to make uplifting raw and decadent avo chocolate mousse!

All you need are the ingredients and a blender and a couple of minutes.

Cocoa contains the substance phenethylamine, which is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that acts as a mood elevator and natural antidepressant, so this natural healthy ‘high’ in antioxidants dessert shall certainly encourage just that! Avo is heart healthy, prevents wrinkles, helps control weight, and also helps you maintain a healthy gut which also encourages the prevention of cancers of the digestive tract. What’s not to like here, go for it!

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

2 medium sized ripe buttery avo
1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut milk
3 T coco powder
2 T syrup
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt

To prep:

Slice your avo in half.

Take out the pip and squeeze the flesh into your blender.

Bung everything else into your blender. Pulse until smooth.

Spoon into a fancy glass if you want.

Garnish with fresh sprigs of mint, or strawberry, cherry or vegan cream. Eat straight away.

Enjoy!

Big Luv from me Vegan Chef On The Run

Benefit from seeds!

Quality of health increases through regular consumption of seeds.

Seed are not just excellent for birds, they benefit humans tremendously, and they are a superfood source that you really do want to incorporate into your daily meal plan!  You can eat them in larger quantities as a main course, grind them into butters,  flax seed can be used as a healthy egg substitute (1 t flax to 3 part water),  you can pop them into smoothies,  drinks and make desserts with them,  sprinkle them over any dish including salads and sandwiches, or use them in smaller quantities as garnishes for other foods. They’re inexpensive, convenient, and tasty. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the most commonly eaten seeds:

Flax seeds: Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, zinc, iron, calcium, and Vitamin E, and are a great addition to your diet. Newer food products that may contain them include cereals and crackers, but you can buy plain flax seeds as well. Flax seeds must be chewed thoroughly though to get the benefits. Since it’s difficult to completely chew this small seed, a better option is to grind them in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder. Once they’re ground, you can add them to smoothies, bread dough, baked goods, and hot cereals. You can also use them as a healthy egg substitute in cooking and baking (1 t ground flax to 3 part water = 1 egg).

Chia seeds: great omega 3 to omega 6 ratio at slightly more 6 than 3, ALA, anti-inflammatory, laxative, soothing for the digestive tract calcium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, protein, fiber, different varieties vary quite a bit in nutritional make up. Great for breakfast, desserts and smoothies!

Hemp seeds: Commonly thought of as a “hippie” food, hemp has some significant health benefits. Hemp seeds are rich in protein, calcium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. While hemp contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the compounds found in marijuana , you will not feel any effects by consuming products containing hemp. Stunning form of well rounded protein and amino acids! Versatile to almost every available dish you can think of. Best consumed in it’s raw form.

Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are chock full of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, tryptophan, and iron. They’re also a good source of copper, zinc, and Vitamin K. You can buy prepackaged pumpkin seeds at most supermarkets, or you can make your own. Scoop out the seeds from a pumpkin’s inner cavity, rinse them off and dry them, then roast them for the best flavor.

Sesame seeds: Not just good on bagels or in Asian dishes, sesame seeds can jazz up salads, cereals, and yogurt. This tiny seed is loaded with copper and manganese, and also has plenty of calcium, magnesium, tryptophan, and iron. Toasting sesame seeds really brings out their flavor. Sesame seeds are a surprising source of the bone-building mineral calcium, great news for folks who have trouble tolerating dairy products. And seeds are a rich source of vitamin E. The only drawback: Some seeds are quite high in fat. Sunflower and sesame seeds provide about 80 percent of their calories as fat, although the fat is mostly of the heart-smart unsaturated variety.

Sunflower seeds: You can buy these shelled, but it’s more fun to buy them whole and crack open the hulls. Sunflower seeds are a tremendous source of Vitamin E and are also rich in Vitamin B1. Also a fantastic base for dips!

Seeds are the “eggs” that contain the nutrients needed to nourish the growth of a new plant. So their high nutrient content shouldn’t come as a surprise. What’s surprising is that we generally relegate these nutritional wonders to the occasional snack rather than making them staples of our diet. Adding more seeds to your meals shall strengthen your body as well as nourish your mind.

With their gold mine of healthy minerals and their niacin and folic-acid contents, seeds are an excellent nutrition package. They are among the better plant sources of iron and zinc. In fact, one ounce of pumpkin seeds contains almost twice as much iron as three ounces of skinless chicken breast. And they provide more fiber per ounce than nuts. They are also great  sources of protein.

Edible seeds are an important part of a raw food diet mainly for the essential fatty acids (EFA’s) they contain. EFA’s are polyunsaturated fats that the human body cannot produce, so they must be obtained from our diets. There are two groups of EFA’s; they are omega 3’s and omega 6’s. The omega 3 fatty acids are alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The omega 6 essential fatty acids are linoleic acid (LA), gamalinolenic acid (GLA), and arachidonic acid (AA).

These EFA’s found in seeds balance and regulate energy production, blood circulation, nerve function, inflammation, hormone regulation, recovery from exercise, immune function, cell growth, and much more. A diet high in animal products and processed foods is high in omega 6’s which compete for the same metabolizing enzymes needed by the omega 3’s for assimilation. Most people’s diets don’t contain enough omega 3’s which upsets the important balance required for good health. When omega 6’s are consumed in excess they use up the metabolizing enzymes making them unavailable for omega 3 metabolism, so it makes complete sense to stop consuming ‘animal products’, and up your seed intake for optimum health and balance.

It’s common for people to consume over 20 times more omega 6 than omega 3, and this type of imbalance is associated with significant health issues including heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes, mood disorders, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation, and obesity. Experts vary in their opinions of the ideal ratio with guidelines ranging anywhere from omega 6 to omega 3 of 4:1 to 1:2. When consuming a well balanced raw food diet including seeds, it should be easy to fall within these guidelines.

Research shows that eating seeds and the EFA’s they contain can elevate mood, improve brain function and development, and build a healthy circulatory system to name just a few. You can now see how including edible seeds in your daily diet shall go a long way in improving your health.

Like nuts, which are actually large seeds, edible seeds are best if soaked before eating, except hemp which does not have enzyme inhibitors. Edible seeds can be put into smoothies, ground and sprinkled over salads, mixed in raw recipes, or blended with citrus juice to make a super healthy salad dressing. These are just a few of the ways to make seeds and their magical EFA’s part of your daily diet.

We would very much love for you to share your recipes and inspirations with us, and to use this platform to share with others in order to encourage everyone on the right track!

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~ Active Vegan ~