Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All about Nuts


The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers, native to the Middle East. Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, the almond tree bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut.

Almonds are classified into two categories: Sweet (Prunus amygdulus dulcis) and Bitter (Prunus amygalus amara). Sweet almonds are the type we eat; and bitter almonds are used to make almond oil and flavouring agents for food and liqueurs such as amaretto. Bitter almonds are mostly inedible by themselves, as they contain several toxic substances (these toxins being removed in the processing of the oil). Almonds are notorious for being a crop that needs a lot of love and attention, thus making them one of the most pesticide-sprayed crops. This is the reason why organic almonds are so expensive. Support organic, raw almonds!
Nutritionally, almonds are a power food. Just one ounce (~23 almonds, or a medium handful) contains 6g of protein, 7.3 mg of vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), 19% of the RDA for magnesium, and 14% of the RDA for phosphorous. Almonds are also a good source of riboflavin (vitamin B2), containing 17% of the RDA in just one ounce. Just one ounce contains 80 mg of calcium (7% RDA), and 1 mg of iron (6% RDA), as well as 4g of fiber (the highest fiber content of any nut or seed). Almonds are generally believed to be the most alkaline of all the nuts. They are also high in potassium and tryptophan (an essential amino acid which aids in sleep). Almonds are a great source of manganese (one ounce contains 32% of the RDA) and copper (one ounce contains 14% of the RDA), two trace minerals essential for the production of the key enzyme superoxide dismutase. This enzyme disarms free radicals produced within our mitochondria (which is known as the “energy production factory” in our cells), thus helping to keep our energy level high.

Almonds contain 54% oil, of which 78% is monounsaturated oleic acid (omega-9) and 17% is polyunsaturated omega-6. The oil is commonly used on the skin during massages, and can be a good subsitute for olive oil in the kitchen. In Ayurveda, almond is considered a nutritive for the brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity.
A one ounce serving of almonds contains a similar quantity of polyphenol as ½ c of cooked broccoli.
As almonds contain vitamin E and monounsaturated fat, they aid in reducing LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
I also read that the raw unpasteurized almonds contain cyanide, which is apparently why the US govt insists on pasteurizing almonds before sale (small growers have a loophole, which is how we get unpasteurized ones). However, I cannot confirm the accuracy of this claim.
All the almonds are unpasteurized, certified organic, from California. The #1 almonds are either the Aldridge, Nonpariel or Carmel varieties (usually Aldridge) and have few marks from shelling. The #2 almonds are the Butte/Padre varieties and have scratches and marks from shelling. They are still very flavourful, though smaller than the #1s.
The almond meal is sprouted and dried, unpasteurized and certified organic. Must be kept cold.
Almond butter is more nutrient-dense than peanut butter. It contains half the amount of saturated fat, less salt, and eight times as much calcium, half the protein, and one quarter as much niacin (4% of the DV).  Sprouted almond butter is delicious! The almonds are sprouted for 1 day, then dried and ground at low temperatures. No oil is added and this almond butter is not dry. Made from unpasteurized and certified organic almonds. Glass jar.
Brazil nuts are native to South America. They are not grown on plantations, but harvested from the wild Amazon rainforest. The large trees (30-45m in height) live upwards of 500 years and are some of the largest trees in the rainforest.
Brazil nuts are 18% protein, 13% carbohydrates, and 69% fat. The fat breakdown is roughly 25% saturated, 41% monosaturated, and 34% polyunsaturated. The saturated content of Brazil nuts is among the highest of all nuts, surpassing macadamia nuts, which are primarily monounsaturated fat, and the nuts are pressed for their oil. Because of the resulting rich taste, Brazil nuts can often substitute for macadamia nuts or even coconut in recipes, and make a great raw parmesan. Due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, primarily omega-6, shelled Brazil nuts should be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Nutritionally, Brazil nuts are a good source of magnesium, thiamine, phosphorous and copper, and are perhaps the richest dietary source of selenium; one ounce can contain as much as 10 times the adult RDA. Proper selenium intake is correlated with a reduced risk of both breast and prostate cancers.
The brazil nuts are shipped and stored in vacuum packaging and kept cool to preserve freshness.
Cashews are a good source of Copper (31% RDA), Manganese (23%), Magnesium (20%), Phosphorous (17%), Vitamin K (12%), Zinc (11%) and Iron (10%). They also contain Thiamin, Selenium, Potassium, and vitamin B6. Their fat is comprised mostly of monounsaturated omega-6 fatty acids. One ounce of cashews provides 5g of protein.
Most cashews, although sold as raw, have been heated during the shelling process. Truly raw cashews are certified organic from Indonesia. Whole, uncertified organic, probably heated cashews from Vietnam are also available.
From our supplier: “Big Tree Farms works directly with small-scale cashew growers on the Isle of Flores to develop both ecological sustainability on these fragile volcanic lands and economic viability from this beautiful product. Our cashews are hand-picked from Organically Certified trees in Eastern Flores. The cashews are “cracked” open with traditional knives and hand-polished to remove the “kulit ari”, a thin skin protecting the kernel. The result is a truly raw cashew kernel so incredibly sweet, soft and white that you simply won't believe your tastebuds! Following this traditional process of hand-processing cashews is a labour of love that has nearly disappeared around the globe. Traditional producers on average can only prepare 2 kgs of raw kernels daily! But the difference between raw and conventionally processed cashews is unmistakable. By reinvigorating the market for raw cashews we are able to keep the high value work of processing “on-farm” and greatly increase the compensation that cashew growers receive for their efforts. More profit for growers means greater pride of product and more focus on the maintenance, harves and post-harvest handling of these wonderful nuts.”
The cashew shell contains toxins (urushiol, the same toxin found in poison ivy), which is why most cashews sold as raw have been heated – to kill any toxins that get onto the nut/kernel itself. Reactions are similar to those experienced after exposure to poison oak or ivy; cashew poisoning is, however, rare, mostly limited to the handlers of the seed pod.
So if you want truly raw, certified organic cashews, or uncertified organic, probably heated whole cashews, both are available.

Filberts or hazelnuts are local to B.C. They are high in the amino acid tryptophan and are a good nut to eat to aid in healthy sleep patterns. Hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E (21% RDA); vitamin E stops nuts from going rancid.

Hazelnuts contain phytosterols, which is reported to aid in reducing LDL cholesterol levels. Hazelnuts are SUPER-high in manganese (one ounce contains 86% of the RDA!). They also contain copper, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, as well as potassium and zinc. One ounce of hazelnuts contains 12.8 mg of choline, often classified as a member of the B-vitamin family, and essential for maintaining mental alertness and cognitive functioning as well as elevating mood and assisting the liver in its functioning. Hazelnuts contain thiamin (12% RDA), folate (8%) and vitamin B6 (8%).

In taste, hazelnuts go well with chocolate. Our hazelnuts are shelled, certified organic, and grown in BC.


Macadamia nuts come from both Hawaii and Kenya. Like hazelnuts, they contain phytosterols (~32 mg per ounce), which aids in reducing LDL chloesterol levels. They contain 58% of the RDA of manganese, and are a source of copper, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. As well, they are a good source of thiamin (22% RDA) and have a omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of ~6:1.

Our Hawaiian macadamia nuts are uncertified organic. They are fresh and taste great due to a unique process where they are dried and shelled right after harvest. This insures quality and enhances sweetness and shelf life.

Pecans are a very good source of manganese (63% RDA). They, too, contain phytosterols (which reduce LDL cholesterol levels). They contain 2.8 micrograms of flouride per ounce. As well, they are a source of copper (17% RDA), zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin and choline.

Our pecans are unheated, uncertified organic, grown wild from very old trees in Missouri. They are small and sweet. Most pecans are shelled by soaking them in 180F water for 20 mins before shelling. These pecans are shelled without using heat.

Walnuts have the greatest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids (2500 mg per ounce) and have a omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1. They contain phytosterols, which reduce LDL cholesterol levels. They are an excellent source of manganese (48% of the RDA), and are a good source of copper (22% of the RDA). As well, they contain magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, zinc and iron.

Our walnuts are mostly whole halves, from this year's crop in California. They are certified organic.
Pistachios contain over 30 vitamins and minerals.  They are rich in potassium (helps regulate the body's fluid balance), phosphorus (helps build bones and teeth) and magnesium (important element in the conversion of the body's energy), and are also a good source of vitamin B6 (aids protein metabolism and absorption) and thiamine (enhances energy and promotes normal appetite).  They are cholesterol free and are high in monosaturated fat.  They are high in fiber and iron and contain a large number of carotenoids and xeaxanthin which may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration (leading to blindness).  They are a good source of vegetable protein and one serving (~50 nuts) contains only 160 calories, making them one of the lowest calorie nut snacks.

Almost all pistachios are dried at very high temperatures.  The ones available through rawfoodsooke are dried at about 45C and are from a family farm in California.  Certified Organic.  In three flavours: natural/plain, lightly sea salted, and flavoured with local BC garlic.

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