caribbeanandworldrecipes

July 26, 2012

Trouble With Digesting Nuts

Filed under: food allergies, health, recipes — Tags: , , , , , , , , — caribbeanandworldrecipes @ 4:34 am
Iranian nuts & fruit

Iranian nuts & fruit (Photo credit: mcfcrandall)

How to Digest Nuts Better: Behind the Scenes

 

Salting, roasting, toasting, soaking – what helps, what hinders and why do so many people have problems with eating nuts? Here is a step by step breakdown of the digestive process, and how nuts are impacted by one’s digestive system.

How Digestion Breaks Down Nuts in Stages

Roughly a three-stage process, digestion begins in the mouth, when as you are chewing, enzymes in the saliva begin to break down the starch in foods. Later, enzymes in the stomach begin to release or unfasten the bonds (chemical in nature) that hold the proteins in food together. Still more enzymes in the intestines, together with bile, continue to break down foods (and nuts), working on the protein, starches and fats.

Not all materials can be broken down by the body, however, and high on the list is fiber, which is not digestible. Fiber makes its way through the intestines, only partially broken down by the bacteria in the colon; this process is again aided by the production of enzymes in this part of the body. Comparatively, starches are broken down in a couple of hours or less, while proteins take at least that long, and may stay in the body for upwards of 5 hours. Fat takes even longer, which means that high fat meals stay in the body for potentially many hours.

How Nuts Are Composed: Proteins and Fiber

High in both fiber and protein (as well as healthy fat – upwards of fifty percent), most tree nuts also contain a good deal of protein (10-20%). The fiber content in nuts is also significant, amounting to upwards of ten percent of their nutritional make-up. Nuts make up an excellent source of nutrition and sustained energy for these very reasons: the fiber and healthy fat contents, along with the protein, all make for a slow digestion cycle in the body.

Digesting Nuts: How Preparation Might Factor In

As mentioned earlier, cooking methods like roasting or baking can also influence the how your body successfully (or otherwise) digests nuts. Any type of cooking essentially breaks down food at a chemical level, in a way not dissimilar to the body’s own methods. The lower the temperature, the better the process aids the body itself in further breaking down and digesting the food. High-temperature baking and cooking destroys many of these same chemical bonds. The good fats to be found in nuts are among these bonds that are destroyed in high-temperature cooking.

Other Compounds Found in Nuts, and Digestion

Tannins, found in nuts, are naturally occurring complex polyphenolics, and are often found in woody plants. Polyphenolics are simply natural antioxidants that comprise an organic defense for plants; these may also be good for human health. The tannins’ main function in nature is a protective one, as their bitter taste deters many animals from eating the foods that contain them. For example, walnuts are chief among the foods high in tannin. Additionally, tannins are contained in cashews, pistachios, pecans and the skins of almonds and peanuts.

These same tannins are heat-resistant, so even high temperature baking and roasting does not break them down, which partially explains why the nuts might give some people trouble when digesting. The fibrous quality of nuts, given the intestine’s inability to completely break down fiber, also explains why there may be some trouble digesting nuts. Gas is produced by the intestine in many cases as some of the colon’s bacteria attempts to break down whatever parts of the fiber that it can.

Cooking, Roasting, Baking: Digestion Helpers With Nuts?

Cooking nuts in a variety of fashions, to recap, does aid in breaking down the starch elements of the the nuts’ nutritional make-up. However, the very elements that might increase difficulty in digestion, the high proteins, tannins and fiber, still produce problems for many. The plant protein-rich quality of nuts may prove to be handled well by the stomach, though in many cases, where the pancreas aids in the process, the roasting of the nuts can help improve nuts’ digestibility.

Digesting Nuts May Be Slow, But Benefits Are High

It is the healthy fats found in nuts that end up contributing to the slowing down of digestion the most. This is especially true when compared to how quickly the body may break down foods that are high in carbohydrates, like breads and fruits. The fiber in nuts is generally what gives a feeling of fullness, but the gas that is produced in the intestines as some bacteria attempt to break down the nut’s fiber may also promote a full feeling. Eating too many nuts at a time (beyond two servings) may produce many of the symptoms and effects mentioned above, leading a person to feel full and perhaps suffer mild indigestion. The reality is that the proteins, fiber and healthy fats are the cause – not over-eating.

Benefits of Soaking and Re-hydrating Nuts

Soaking nuts like almonds and cashews in filtered water re-hydrates them. (To find out even more on Re-hydrating Nuts [http://www.greeneggsandplanet.com/blog], read this Green Eggs and Planet post.) Beyond the enriched flavor and new texture, the process also removes chemicals known as enzyme inhibitors. These chemicals are natural, and exist for the purpose of protecting the nut until it is the appropriate time for it to sprout. When you soak the nuts in water, the fluids release the enzyme inhibitors and wash them away. For those who experience a bit of trouble when digesting dried nuts, removing the enzyme inhibitors (which can make the nut difficult to digest) may solve the problem.

Other options to aid in digestion include eating raw nuts in smaller portions, to maximize the healthy benefits of the nuts while minimizing the pain of indigestion, or lightly roasting nuts to begin the process of chemically breaking down the nuts. Avoid commercially roasted nuts, however, as the high temperatures (+170F) cause a breakdown of the fats in nuts, thus producing free radicals that are harmful to the body.

Matty Byloos writes and manages the Green Blog known as: Easy Ways to Go Green, as well as the Organic Food Blog: Organic Eating Daily

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Matty_Byloos

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Lowering Cholesterol Eating Nuts

Nuts such as walnuts (pictured above) are rich...

Nuts such as walnuts (pictured above) are rich sources of micronutrients and protein. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I think of lowering cholesterol I think of the Paleolithic diet – the foods our ancestors ate long ago. What did they eat 10,000 or more years ago? The answer is simple – fruits, berries, nuts, and animals when they were lucky enough to kill one. It wasn’t fast food that’s for sure. Our bodies and physiologies were developed at that time on those foods. Our physiologies might not have changed over time, but our eating habits have.

Today most people shy away from nuts because of their fat content and consequent high calories. Eating nuts in reasonable amounts will not increase your weight. The secret to incorporating nuts in your diet is to substitute them in place of less heart-friendly snacks such as potato chips, donuts, cup cakes, etc. Not to add them to your existing diet.

Three ounces of pistachios (about two handfuls) have 400 calories. If you are eating 2,000 calories a day this makes up 20 percent of your caloric intake. However, the fats in nuts are the more heart friendly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, and nuts have no cholesterol. The monounsaturates with some polyunsaturates in nuts make an ideal combination of fats which have been linked to improving cholesterol levels and promoting heart health.

Many studies have shown that HDL good cholesterol levels have been boosted and LDL bad cholesterol and total cholesterol levels have been reduced when nuts were added to the test subjects’ diets. Also levels of triglycerides (blood fats) have been shown to be reduced by eating nuts.

Each type of nut will have varying levels of the following, but generally nuts contain:

o Low levels of saturated fats.

o High levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

o All have No cholesterol.

o Dietary fiber.

o Plant protein, which makes them a good alternative to meat; nuts are also high in the amino acid arginine.

o Vitamins E, B6, niacin and folic acid.

o Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, copper, selenium and potassium.

Exceptions: consumption of coconuts, palm nuts – these nuts have the highest levels of saturated fat and their consumption should be limited. Brazil nuts, macadamias, cashews and pine nuts also contain large amounts of saturated fats relative to remaining nuts.

Peanuts are really not a nut, but a legume. They have a high level of folate (lowers the risk of heart disease) and are high in fiber. Peanuts may cause allergies in some people.

Some nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids which are also found in fish. These fatty acids improve the health of artery walls and help prevent blood clots.

One study showed that people with high total cholesterol and LDL concentrations found eating almonds to be especially effective in reducing these levels.

When you purchase nuts try to get them with no salt added or lightly salted (if you are not salt sensitive). Nuts by themselves have only trace amounts of sodium.

Probably the best advice is to have a handful (nine to 15 nuts) of a variety of nuts daily, especially walnuts and almonds.

Only buy nuts that are natural or dry roasted without added oils or heavily salted.

A handful of nuts equals about one ounce and this is the serving size shown on most
‘Nutrition Facts’ panels on food labels.

Vegetarians, who avoid red meat, need to eat nuts almost daily because nuts are a good substitute for meat (they contain protein, fat, iron, zinc and niacin). For example, ½ cup of nuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter are roughly equivalent to a serving of meat.

As long as you control your total calories, eating a handful of nuts daily should help prevent weight gain. The fat, protein and fiber in nuts help you feel full longer, so you eat less during the day.

At snack time try a handful of nuts instead of a donut or sticky bun. You’ll be eating heart-healthy food, helping to lower your cholesterol, and not gaining weight. Remember to limit your portion to a handful.

In summary, nuts have been a part of our diet since the dawn of time. They contain many beneficial nutrients. They have been shown to lower total cholesterol, LDL bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, and raise HDL good cholesterol levels. With the exception of four or five nuts which are high in saturated fat, most of their fat content is heart friendly. They are high in calories. This is not a problem if they are substituted in the daily diet for other less heart-friendly snacks like sticky buns, donuts, potato ships, etc. A handful of mixed nuts a day is all that is needed to lower your cholesterol provided you consider these calories in your daily total you should not gain weight.

Tim Lazaro is a nutrition scholar and competitive, masters runner who writes on issues related to heart health, natural-food diets, and aerobic exercise. By employing the diets and life-style changes that he writes about, he has lowered his total cholesterol and lost weight. If you want to learn more about lowering your cholesterol, download his Free guide here: Five Secrets to Lowering Cholesterol

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tim_Lazaro

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July 19, 2012

How to Cook Chestnuts on the Stove

Filed under: health, recipes, travel — Tags: , , , — caribbeanandworldrecipes @ 10:46 pm

Snow, presents, yuletide logs, Christmas trees and Christmas carols never fail to surround us with that cheerful holiday spirit. Another thing that never fails to remind me of Christmas is a fresh bowl of roasted chestnuts. The delicious taste and enticing aroma of roasted chestnuts even up until today immediately brings me back to my childhood where each Christmas was spent with the entire family and roasted chestnuts were a “staple snack” during the very jolly December holiday. Although technically roasting chestnuts require you to use a grill but in this day and age, a stove is sufficient.

The first step in roasting the chestnuts is to turn on the fire on the stove and to set it to a low flame. This is to make sure the chestnuts are cooked properly without directly burning them. Before cooking them, poke the flat underside of the nuts with a fork to enable the steam to escape because this prevents the chestnuts from exploding! Since we’re going to roast the chestnuts on the stove, the chestnuts are placed in a long handle pan. Throughout the time the chestnuts are being cooked on the fire, sprinkle some water on them to ensure they do not completely dry out.

Roasting chestnuts on the stove

Leave the chestnuts to roast for about fifteen to twenty minutes, while they’re still cooking, remember to stir them around to ensure each chestnut is equally cooked, preventing them from burning. Once they’re done cooking, switch the oven off and allow them to cool for about five to ten minutes. After the cooling period, the chestnuts are ready to be cracked open and eaten. You can add salt and sugar according to the wishes of your taste buds to make sure these delectable fruits are enjoyed at its best. What easy steps for such a delicious treat!

Another way on how to cook chestnuts on the stove is to boil them in a pot. Add a little salt to the water while the chestnuts are inside the pot and wait for them to boil. Once the water starts to boil, turn the oven off and drain the chestnuts and allow them to cool down. Once they’re cool enough, peel the skin off because the skin would be easier to peel now they’ve been cooked. The boiled chestnuts can be eaten alone or with a garnish. They are also used as stuffing for turkeys during Thanksgiving and other occasions.

Chestnuts are not necessarily eaten only during Christmas or Thanksgiving but on normal days as well. They’re delicious and there’s no denying that. No wonder they wrote a Christmas song in dedication to these delicious little fruits!

Stuart is writing for many websites, He enjoys writing on wide range of topics such as how to cook chestnuts on stove and Homemade Decorations for Christmas. You may visit for more details.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Stuart_Michael_M

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