Which nuts are the best?


Stock nuts

It’s as easy to eat well and feed your children well as it is to eat poorly. Well, OK, not really, but sometimes, in some ways. OK, mostly it’s not exactly easier, but occasionally just having a little accurate information is all it takes to make a better choice over a worse choice.  I’m all for building in as many ways as possible to do this thing better without increasing my effort.  I figure the more good choices I can make, the less my bad ones will matter.

A reader asked me some time back which nuts were the best to feed children.  I really had no clue and hadn’t thought about the question.

Looking into it, I discovered some facts that go against what I’m guessing many other folks believe or may not have questioned, either.

Nuts, while fattier and lower in protein than meat, are a generally healthy food option for kids and adults, in moderation.  Nuts are natural, primal, unprocessed food, and a great way to diversify flavors and nutrients.  But there are nuts and there are “nuts.”

Peanut Pitfalls

The peanut is probably our most commonly eaten, favorite and cheap “nut.”  Ever wonder why we hear so much about peanut allergies?  What I discovered recently is that peanuts are not nuts at all but legumes (the family of peas, pinto beans and lentils), and as such, contain antinutrients. That word means just what is says: instead of nutrients, part of the peanut is harmful, is de-nourishing us.  Antinutrients actually prevent the body from absorbing nutrients.  Peanuts have to be cooked to lessen the effects of those antinutrients.  Real nuts can and should be eaten raw and unsalted, though they are healthier soaked and dried.

Two Roads Diverge: Which Way is Better and Why

On the other end of the spectrum from the peanut is the walnut. It has the best balance of fats. It’s a good source of the beneficial omega 6 fats we hear so much about.  Macadamia nuts are a close second, followed by pecans, then pine nuts.  Those are our best choices. Isn’t that good to know?

So armed with those facts, I can make the easy choice to eat the best nuts when it’s no harder than eating the worst. We like walnuts as well as pecans or the far less wholesome nuts, like almonds or Brazil nuts.

It’s a bit like if you were considering two different roads to your destination and both were equally direct and pleasant, your choice would be suddenly made easier if you knew one was a toll road, but that free strawberries and watermelon were handed out on the other. Information is power. Sometimes I might eat some peanuts, but at least it won’t be for lack of knowledge.

Coming up:

How cavemen and women avoided osteoporosis

When processed food is actually healthier for the processing

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 4 July 2009 / All rights reserved

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  1. Gerard
    July 5, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    When I grew up (in the Jura) we usually had an abundant crop of walnuts and apples which would keep over the winter and spring. That was a fairly major part of our diet. I enjoy eating them together.

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