Nuts and seeds are the most important and potent of all foods. Nuts are also seeds from which trees grow if they remain in the ground until they germinate. Seeds have always been considered as the symbol of resurrection. It contains the embryo, the reproductive power which is of vital importance for the lives of human beings and their health. Dead, dry, hard and tough-it appears quite lifeless. But given moisture and soil, it will sprout again and will produce not one but many more seeds or nuts.
Nuts include a number of fruits, containing one or more kernels within a hard shell of woody fibre. There are a variety of nuts. The most popular among them are almond, cashew nut, coconut, groundnut, pistachio and walnut. All the available varieties contain a concentrated food of high nutritional value.
Food Value of Nuts and Seeds
Seeds contain all the important nutrients needed for human growth. They are excellent sources of protein and the essential unsaturated fatty acids which are necessary for health. They are also one of the best natural sources of lecithin, most of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin E, which are perhaps the most important elements for the preservation of health and prevention of premature ageing. Besides, they are rich sources of minerals and supply the necessary bulk in the diet.
Similarly, genuine nuts ale high in protein, fat and carbohydrate foods. They are rich in many minerals such as potassium, the healer, sodium, the preserver of youth, calcium and phosphorus which are essential for strong bones and teeth and sulphur which purifies and activates the body. Raw nuts are generously supplied with B vitamins, which are valuable for the brain and nervous system as well as vitamin F needed for around development. Some of them also contain Vitamin A and C. The general composition is roughly formed by protein 10 to 25 per cent, fat 40 to 60 per cent, carbohydrate 10 to 20 per cent, cellulose three to five per cent and minerals nearly two per cent per 100 grams.
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of nuts and seeds
Seeds contain pacifarins, an antibiotic resistance factor, which increases man’s natural resistance to disease. They also contain auxones, natural substances which help produce vitamins in the body and play an important role in the rejuvenation of cells, thereby preventing premature ageing. Sprouted seeds are excellent live nourishment. They are valuable sources of protein, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates. Germinated seeds enormously increase their nutritional value. All seeds should ideally be eaten raw but those, which can be sprouted, should be consumed in that form to derive maximum nutrition.
However, nuts should be used in their natural raw state. Raw nuts are among the foods highest in fat. But the fat of nuts is completely natural and unprocessed which is best for the body. It is especially rich in linoleic acid and is least damaging to heart and arteries.
Nuts often produce oil half their weight. The high energy value of the nuts is mainly due to their oil content. They render approximately 600 calories per 100 grams compared to 348 for wheat, 346 for lentils, and 283 for dates of equal weight. The nut oil is used for cooking all over the world. Pure nut oils are often used in medicine.
Raw nuts are safe food as their hard shell offers an effective barrier against bacteria. They can be preserved with all their nutritional value intact for long periods in their natural unshelled state. Being extremely low in water content, nuts have excellent storage qualities. They can be kept fresh for many years in sealed containers provided they are held in a cool dry place.
An excellent way of using nuts is to take in the form of butter. The nut butter is easily digested. It can be prepared at home by removing the skin of the nuts and then grinding them into fine paste. It should, however, be ensured that unheated and unsalted nut butters are used. They can be put on fruits for added protein, in dressings and added to soups at the end of cooking or used in vegetables. Nut butters are especially beneficial for older persons who do not like meat and cannot eat it because of lack of teeth or dentures that are painful. Their B vitamins, minerals and proteins act in the digestive tract and improve the appetite.
The most easily digested form of nut is, however, nut milk drinks. They make rich non-acid-forming drinks, full of nourishment. Blanched nuts may be soaked in water for few hours. This softens the structure of the nut kernel. Then 90 gm. of soaked nuts may be put in 150 ml. of water and kept for two or three minutes in a liquefier. They may be flavored with honey or any kind of fruit concentrate. The fluid resembles dairy milk in composition and appearance. It is so easily digested that it may be used in baby feeding with advantage. Almond milk especially makes a very alkaline drink, high in protein and easy to assimilate and absorb.
The nut milk can be used in various ways. It can be used as sherbet by adding sugar and lime juice. The milk may be curdled like the dairy milk with the addition of a little curd.