Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds may be small, but they pack a giant health and nutritional punch. And many of them are alive, with the potential to turn into the next generation of the plant or tree that they come from. You can benefit from that concentrated life force by including nuts and seeds in your diet.

Technically, nuts are a kind of seed — ones with hard shells — but not all seeds are nuts. The common nuts you can find at many grocery stores include walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, chestnuts, and Brazil nuts. The seeds you’ll come across most frequently include sesame, sunflower, poppy, pumpkin, hemp, flax, and chia.

Nuts and seeds are rich in high-quality plant proteins and fiber, as well as healthy fats. Some seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids that are sometimes hard to source in a plant-based diet. They contain antioxidants like tocopherols and phytosterols — walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts have most of these. And they’re a rich source of minerals like magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc. A single Brazil nut contains enough selenium to meet double your daily requirement!

Eating nuts and seeds can help you live longer. They may do this by reducing risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds have all been shown to suppress the mechanism by which cancer initiates and grows. And nuts can reduce A1c levels, the key marker for diabetes. Men who eat nuts, including peanuts, have shown a reduced risk of developing gallstones. And pistachios may improve the ability to have and maintain erections in men.

You can enjoy nuts and seeds raw or roasted, whole, chopped, as flour, and as nut butter. They’re great as a snack, by themselves, or as part of a trail mix. You can sprinkle them over salads and stir-fries, and include them in desserts to provide fat without needing oil or dairy. You can blend them into sauces, dressings, dips, and spreads. And you can turn them into nut and seed milk, blend them into rich and delicious smoothies, and make them into nut cheeses and meat analogs.

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