Here on “Wellness Wednesday,” I want to take some time to address a few of the common misconceptions about certain types of foods.
One of the biggest areas of confusion is around fats: some say all fat is bad for you, some say only certain types of fats are bad, but then they tell you the wrong ones. For years, Americans ate margarine and vegetable oil because they had been told that saturated fats caused heart disease.
Turns out, the real problem was the processes our food manufacturers were using to build our food. We’re going to talk more about this over the coming weeks. I really want you to understand the myths and facts around fat and oil, so that you use the healthiest oils when you cook (spoiler alert: coconut oil is going to get a lot of attention!)
What About Nuts?
There is another misconception floating around that eating nuts contributes to weight gain, when in fact, the opposite is true.
(I take that back – it’s only half true. If the nuts you eat are roasted in vegetable oil and salt, then you’re losing some of the value of the nuts. You really need to find raw nuts.)
The fact is, raw tree nuts – Macadamias, Pecans, Pine nuts, Brazil nuts, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios – have been linked to some pretty surprising health benefits. (NOTE: It’s also worth mentioning that peanuts are not on that list. Peanuts are legumes, and the harmful ways they are processed is mind-boggling).
Our bodies were created to burn specific types of fats for energy. The problem is that our American diet is sweetened with sugars, and when we take in too much sugar, our bodies switch from burning fat to burning sugar for energy. As we discussed in a previous article, that’s where many health problems get started. Getting off the sugar fix not only allows our bodies to fight disease more effectively, it has been shown to promote longevity. Dr. Joseph Mercola, MD says, “In order for your body to begin burning fat as your primary fuel instead of sugar,it is helpful to swap non-vegetable carbohydrates like sugar and grains in your diet with high-quality healthful fats. Raw nuts are one source of such fats.”
He continues, “[M]acadamia and pecans…provide the highest amount of healthy fat while being on the lower end in terms of carbs and protein. Most nuts’ nutritional makeup closely resemble what I consider to be an ideal ratio of the basic building blocks—fat making up the greatest amount of your daily calories, followed by a moderate amount of high-quality protein and a low amount of non-vegetable carbs.”
Nuts are also a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, plant-based Omega 3 fats, and monounsaturated fat. Walnuts in particular “may help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well. They’ve also been shown to reverse brain aging in rats and boost heart health in people with diabetes.” Nuts and seeds also contain some amounts of protein, but you wouldn’t want them to replace other protein sources, like meats.
There’s obviously a lot more we could say about nuts, but if you’d like to do some more in-depth research, look at these articles and the ones I linked to throughout this post. Dr. Mercola does a fantastic job of splitting fact from fiction.
In the mean time, enjoy a handful of delicious nuts – without guilt.