Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Nuts and Seeds

BACK IN THE STATES!!!  It's official, I'm back in the wonderful U.S.A!  I had an absolute blast over in Austria but it sure is great to be home sweet home.  I have much more respect for those that live so far away from family, friends, and loved ones - especially military men and women who spend 12-18 months so far away from home in every sense of the word.  It was tough at times, but made a lot of great friends and it was an incredible experience. 

One thing that I missed the most from the States was PEANUT BUTTER!  I love PB and it's a lot harder to find here in Europe and when you do it's usually pretty expensive.  While the States have whole isles dedicated to every kind of PB you can think, in Europe you see a lot more Nutella and maybe on little jar of PB hiding in the corner.  So in honor of getting back to my love affair with PB, let's break down what makes PB in it's simplest form... Peanuts... Now more general... nuts and their first cousin seeds.  Gonna break down the top 10 nuts/seeds for your performance and health.  Sadly peanuts didn't make the list, but PB is still number 1 in my heart.  Let's recap the previous Top Lists of food if you missed any of them

Muscle Sprouts and Company
Tuity Fruity
Top 10 Spices and Herbs

And as always let's recap some fancy stuff

Phytonutrients - Natural nutrients in plant sources.  Phyto is Greek for plant, and these nutrients can help with many different health issues and help prevent diseases.  Some of the major phytonutrients for humans include - flavonoids, glucosinolates, resveratrol, caretonoids, ellagic acid, and phytoestrogens.  Overall the more phytonutrients a food has the better it is for us.

Antioxidants - Antioxidants help protect and repair damage done by free radicals.  Free radicals can cause damage to our body if they are not kept in check over time.  Antioxidants assist in reducing the natural damage done by free radicals.
Ok now to the list...

1. Almonds - Aka Almighty Almonds

We start with the superstar of nut's Almonds.  Almonds are well know for providing many health benefits such as reducing risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, full of healthy fats, rich in antioxidants, and great for the skin and eyes.  Almonds are a staple in healthy diets, and have been linked to help to lose weight.  But this comes with a double-edged sword - Almonds are high in calories and fat (even though it a healthy fat).  If you're not careful, 2-3 handfuls can start to add up, and no matter how great almonds are, a calories count.

Tummy Time - Put a small handful in with greek yogurt.

2. Brazil Nuts - Aka Brazil Nuts

photo credit: nikkigsblog.wordpress.com
These big ole boys are not the most well known nut, but their benefits are.  They are high in healthy fats, Vitamin E, and selenium.   Selenium is often tough to come by in many diets, but just eating 1-2 of these nuts a day will provide you with enough selenium which help prevent artery diseases, liver problems, and certain cancers.

Tummy Time - Make a healthy homemade trail mix of Brazil Nuts, Almonds, Dark Chocolate, Sunflower Seeds.

3. Pistachios - Aka Stupid shells, just give me the good stuff!

Pistachios are the new kids on the block, quickly becoming a favorite snack for many and for good reason.  These little green guys are rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, and have a dense mineral supply.  Pistachios can help fight cancer, free radicals, and be beneficial for fat loss.

Tummy Time - No better way than to just snack on some.

4. Walnuts - Aka Brain Food

"Brain" Food
What a coincidence that walnuts look like a brain and are great for our brain.  They are huge in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and omega 3 fats.  It's no wonder that not only does your brain love walnuts, but also your cardiovascular system, immune system, and eat walnuts and reduce your risk of diabetes and certain cancers.  While the almond is the Super Star of the nut world; walnuts are the best kept secret.

Tummy Time - Walnuts are great in salads.  Only piece of advice with walnuts is to keep the skin on the nut.  The skin is where 90% of the phenols are found, so leave it on!

5. Sunflower Seeds - Aka Nector of Baseball

Sunflower seeds aren't just great to chomp on during a baseball game, they are great anytime.  Sunflower seeds pack a big punch of vitamin E, B-vitamins, selenium, and magnesium.  Because of this, they may help reduce cholesterol, risk of certain cancers, and relax your muscles. 

Tummy Time - Keep down those bags of sunflower seeds, but stick to the plain variety as much as possible. 

6. Chia Seeds - Aka Chia Ya!

Despite being small, chia seeds pack huge amounts of Omega 3's, iron, magnesium, calcium, antioxidants, and surprisingly protein.  It is truly a super food supplying a wide variety of health benefits.  If you haven't tried chia seeds yet, then you better start.

Tummy Time - Throw a handful of chia seeds into a super smoothie.

7. Hemp Seeds - Aka Am I gonna get high?

Despite being named hemp and coming from the cannabis family, these little puppies aren't illegal, in fact hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious things you can eat.  Full of essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, fiber, antioxidants, and dense vitamin and mineral make-up.  These are a great source for athletes to get recommended amino acids and fatty acids, so don't be afraid of the name because hemp seeds are a must for any athlete or health conscious person.

Tummy Time - Sprinkle hemp seeds on top of fresh fruit, or mix it in with PB and spread on fruit.

I <3 Hemp Seeds

8. Flax Seed - Aka Am I gonna have to poop?

Flax seeds are an Omega 3 fatty acid powerhouse.  So they bring all the benefits of Omegs 3's, but they also pack a great supply of phytonutrients (specifically lignans), tons of antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Tummy Time - Flax seed can be added to a tons of foods from baked goods, oatmeal, yogurt, sprinkled on salads, or smoothie.  A favorite of ours is to add flax seeds into the our classic Protein Pudding/Ice Cream.

9. Sesame Seeds - Aka Am I gonna fail a drug test?

These unique seeds will give your body a great supply of copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and tryptophan.  As you can see it is a very mineral dense food.  This diverse nutritional make-up can help improve bone density, respiratory health, and can reduce arthritis pain.

Tummy Time - Sesame chicken baby!  Sprinkle these seeds on cooked chicken, broccoli, and carrots.

10. Pumpkin Seeds - Aka You mean there's more to pumpkins that just carving?

These gems hidden in the guts of pumpkins are a nutrient powerhouse.  They supply big amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and tryptophan.  Pumpkin seeds are known for their dense mineral supply and can be great to get some antioxidants, antifungals, and help fight cancer.

Tummy Time - Rinse and dry off, and then throw on your favorite Spices and Herbs.  Then roast those suckers for about 15-20 minutes.  It's the fall classic. 

Roasted and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

There you have it.  We've now given you a ton of great choices for fruits, veggies, nuts/seeds, and how to add variety and flavor to those with spices and herbs.  You're all set to get in the kitchen and start getting funky! 

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Go Get 'Em!

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