Snack Facts: The Truth About Nuts

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If you are allergic to nuts, by all means avoid them. If youenjoy nuts but fear those Omega-6 fatty acids we’re here to say, fear not! Here’s why: when nuts are fresh and undamaged, their high antioxidant content and tight physical package helps prevent oxidation of their abundant but fragile store of Omega-6 fats. The relatively stable monounsaturated fats that make up a majority of their fat content helps, too. Andwhen Omega-6 fats come from fresh, whole foods, they’re just as essential as Omega-3s—hence the term EFA, or Essential Fatty Acids, which is applied to both fats. In fact, you actually need more of them than Omega-3s, just not as muchas the typical American diet provides. And not in the rancid, oxidized condition you get from industrially processed oils like corn, canola, and soy.

Tips For Choosing Healthy Snacks |

{Walnuts from Lujan Farm}

Rancid nuts are just as bad for your health as any industrial oil. Heat, light, air, and time are the enemies here, so buy only from trusted vendors, check for a shriveled appearance or rancid odor, and store in airtight containers. Nuts in their shells will store longest. Nut butters should be kept tightly sealed and refrigerated.

Tips for Healthy Snacks |

{Massa Organic Almond Butter}

Be especially careful with walnuts. They’re justly prized as the only nut high in Omega-3 as well as Omega-6 fats, but for that very reason, and because they have less protective monounsaturated fat than most nuts, they spoil more easily than other nuts.

Choose raw nuts, or as minimally heated as possible. Heat breaks down EFAs, antioxidants, and enzymes. That said, dry-roasting is gentler than oil-roasting, which also usually also comes with the undesirable addition of those cheap industrial oils.

Tips for Eating Healthy Snacks |

{Walnuts from Apricot King}

Nuts are bursting with Vitamin E, phytonutrients, minerals, and fiber. In study after study they’ve been shown to support cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, and optimal blood sugar and weight. In the context of a fresh, varied, whole-food diet that includes Omega-3 sources like fish and walnuts, the need to calculate EFA ratios and calories tends to fade away. As renowned Berkeley food sage Michael Pollan succinctly puts it, “eat food.” Choose, store, and prepare it well. The rest will take care of itself.

Tips for Eating Healthy Snacks |

{Trail Mix from Inzana Ranch}

J. Silverstein |

Judith Silverstein is a Berkeley-based holistic nutritionist specializing in helping people with food intolerances and chronic illnesses find nourishing, healing, joyful, and practical ways to eat. She also advises people seeking to transition away from the standard American diet, including how to source, prepare, budget, and minimize exposure to the negative aspects of the industrial food system. She is a big fan of Grubmarket’s mission to bring eaters and farmers closer together.