Nuts, what can I say about nuts? I love them! And they can be part of a very healthy diet. Or they can cause your body major stress. There are a couple different issues with nuts. I’ll start with how they should be prepared.
Nuts of all kinds (walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc.) should be soaked and dehydrated before you eat them. Why? It’s the same idea as I discussed about grains…why they need to be soaked. Like grains, nuts contain phytates, which makes them very hard on your digestive system and your whole body. By soaking and dehydrating nuts you neutralize the phytates. Then your body can absorb the nutrients. According to Nourishing Traditions, “nuts contain numerous enzyme inhibitors that can put a real strain on the digestive mechanism if consumed in excess. Nuts are easier to digest, and their nutrients more readily available, if they are first soaked…then dried.” Nuts do contain a lot of vitamins and minerals (the list includes calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, B complex, carotenoids, vitamin C, copper, and zinc) and are a great source of protein. Nuts also have a very high fat content, anywhere from 60% to 80% of calories from fat. Plus they make a great on-the-go snack. Or even a great addition to salads or mixed in yogurt. They give you the crunch you’re looking for…especially if you’re cutting out other foods like grains. They can be used to make milk substitutes, make flour, used in baking, to make nut butters, etc. Nuts are recommended as part of healthy, Real Food diet. They are recommended as part of a healthy diet for pregnancy. And many Real Food activists are in favor of eating properly prepared nuts.
So, how do you make crispy nuts? It’s quite simple. You soak the nuts in a combo of water and unrefined sea salt (time and quantities vary for each kind of nut). Then drain and dehydrate. I always do a large batch and freeze them. They are great right out of the freezer. No need to thaw. And they will stay good much longer that way. Here are a few versions of crispy nuts/seeds:
Are nuts, even properly prepared, a good option for everyone? Not necessarily. Nuts do contain a fair amount of omega-6 fatty acids. As long as you’re eating a whole food diet and no processed foods, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you already get a lot of omega-6 in your diet you don’t want to add more. We need more omega-3 and way less omega-6. And for all of the omega-6 you intake you need to counteract it with more omega-3…which is harder to get. According to Nourishing Traditions, “a diet high in unsaturated fatty acids, especially polyunsaturated (omega-6…i.e. vegetable oils), can destroy the body’s supply of vitamin E and cause muscular lesions, brain lesions and degeneration of blood vessels. Care must be taken not to include a large amount of polyunsaturated oil in the diet without a corresponding increase in the intake of vitamin E.” Also, some people may not tolerate nuts well. Nuts are not recommended on diets like SCD. Check out Kat’s experience. And of course there is the obvious nut allergy. If you’re allergic to nuts, avoid them.
So, where do I stand? At this point I say all things in moderation. Don’t go overboard with nuts. But unless you notice a problem when you eat them, I say go for it. I can say without a doubt that nuts that are not properly prepared kill my gut. I now know why in high school and college I had some of the stomach problems I did…I ate peanuts every single day! Big handfuls. Yikes. I knew they had an impact. But I ate them anyway. If I even eat a small amount now I notice. I do eat crispy nuts almost every day. And my daughter loves them too. Maybe some day I’ll experiment and go without for a while to see if I notice a difference. But for now I regularly enjoy crispy nuts as part of a healthy diet.