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This guest post was written by Elisha of My Health Maven. She is deeply passionate about educating people and empowering them to lead healthier lives. I encourage you to check out her blog!

Nuts are a healthy food or snack for any time of day. Nuts are cholesterol-free and contain heart-healthy fats, fiber, protein and important minerals and vitamins. They also contain arginine, which protects the inner lining of artery walls. Regular consumption of nuts is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in women with type 2 diabetes.

Some people are concerned about the high-fat content of nuts, however, the fat in nuts is primarily a monounsaturated form. Consuming monounsaturated fats can help reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels while maintaining the “good” cholesterol, HDL.

According to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, nut-eaters were associated with reduced risk of major chronic diseases. The findings were the result of nearly 120,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Physician’s Health Study. All the participants answered questions about their diets at the beginning of the studies in the 1980s and then every two to four years during 30 years of follow-up.

Health Benefits of Nuts

mixed-nuts

Cashews

These versatile nuts are packed with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins such as B6, copper, E, iron, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and zinc. Nuts are naturally cholesterol-free and contain good amounts of heart-healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Studies show that consuming cashews are linked to cancer prevention, heart health, and weight management.

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Almonds

Contain vitamin E, B2, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and iron. They also contain numerous plant compounds such as catechins which reduce the risk of numerous chronic conditions such as CVD (cardiovascular disease), cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, quercetin which offers anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects and resveratrol , which may have benefits for cancer, diabetes, and heart health.

Sunflower

Sunflower seeds contain both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which raise HDL and lower LDL (bad cholesterol).  Sunflower is rich in folate, a B vitamin that helps build new cells, antioxidant-rich vitamin E, copper, and selenium, all of which are important elements in supporting heart health and balancing cellular damage. Eating a quarter cup of sunflower seeds provides your body with 82 % of the vitamin E and 34 % of the selenium you need in a day.

Hazelnuts

Are a rich source of minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.  Hazelnuts also known as filberts have a very high level of Proanthocyanidin (PAC). The antioxidant capacity of PAC’s is 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than vitamin E.

Not All Nut Butters Are Created Equally

Not all store bought nut butters have healthy ingredients. Many brands contain sugars, salts and some use partially hydrogenated oil, which is a source of unhealthy trans fats. Store bought nut butters, especially organic varieties can also be cost prohibitive. Making your own nut butters is an easy and inexpensive option.

Recipes

These recipes were made using a Vitamix high-speed blender. You can also use a food processor to create these recipes but the preparation time significantly increases and so does the amount of oil.

Here are a few recipes to get you started:

1. Maple Almond Sunbutter

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Maple syrup

Ingredients

  1. Place nuts in high-speed blender.
  2. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.
  3. Add in coconut oil and maple syrup. Blend till smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.
  4. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

2. Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cashews
  • 3 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Directions

  1. Place nuts in high-speed blender.
  2. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.
  3. Add cacao powder and coconut oil. Blend till smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.
  4. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

3. Honey Almond Nutbutter

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Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups of Almonds
  • 2 tablespoons of Honey
  • 1 tablespoons of Coconut oil

Directions

  1. Place nuts in high-speed blender.
  2. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.
  3. Add honey and coconut oil. Blend till smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.
  4. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

4. Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup of Cacao powder
  • ¼ cup of Maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons of Vanilla extract
  • ¼ tablespoons of Salt
  • 2 tablespoons of Coconut oil

Directions

  1. Roast hazelnuts for 8 minutes in 400-degree F oven.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Rub nuts in a dishtowel to remove the outer paper skins.
  2. Place nuts in high-speed blender.
  3. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and blend till it’s smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.
  5. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

5. Coconut Cashew Butter

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Cashews
  • 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Directions

  1. Place nuts in high-speed blender.
  2. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.
  3. Add coconut oil. Blend till smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.
  4. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

Here are two more delicious butter recipes – Turmeric Butter and Toasted Coconut Butter.

 

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Elisha McFarland
Health Expert
Elisha McFarland, N.D. is the founder of My Health Maven. She turned her debilitating illness from mercury poisoning into a dedicated passion for helping people.
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