Tag - nutrtional benefits

Whole Foods Spotlight – Cashews

 

Native to Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, cashew trees bear copious amounts of a false fruit called a cashew apple. Botanically, the nut we consume is a drupe or a stone fruit with a hard outer shell enclosing the edible kernel. Cashews spread throughout the world thanks to Indian and Portuguese explorers and is enjoyed both as a sweet snack and in the preparation of curries and other dishes.

They provide a host of valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals that make them a great choice in a healthy diet. Particularly abundant is copper which is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, elastin and collagen and offer protection to nerve fibers. There are .6mg of copper in a one ounce serving of roasted cashews, around 30% of the recommended daily intake. They also offer magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, potassium, selenium and calcium.

Cashews sometimes get a bad rap for being high in fat. However, the fats contained within are essential, monounsaturated fatty acids which actually assist the body in lowering harmful LDL-cholesterol and increasing the good HDL cholesterol. Diets which include monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent stroke and coronary artery disease.

Vitamin K, needed for proper blood clotting and preventing excessive bleeding, is also abundant in cashews. As is vitamin B6 which helps maintain a healthy nervous system, boost mood,balance blood sugar levels and acts as a natural pain reliever.

There are also antioxidant compounds in the nut, including proanthocyanidins which are being researched for their ability to stop the growth of certain cancer cells by preventing them from dividing. Cashews are of particular interest to researchers in the study of colon cancer.

The cashew and other nuts have also been researched for their ability to lower the risk of gallstones. The Nurses’ Health study collected dietary data on 80,000 women over a twenty year period and concluded that women who eat at least one ounce of nuts or nut butter each week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

Other than grabbing a handful as a snack or throwing some into a granola mix, there are plenty of delicious ways to incorporate cashews into your meal planning. Below are some links to delicious recipes that include cashews!

 

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Crunchy Pea Salad with Bacon & Cashews

Pumpkin Chickpea Cashew Curry

Whole Foods Spotlight: Sweet Peas

How many times did you hear, “Eat your peas!” when you were growing up? That piece of parental wisdom is definitely one to follow because sweet peas are tiny little powerhouses of nutrition. Today we share some reasons why you should put another spoonful of peas on your plate.

Packed with anti-oxidants including flavenoids, carotenoids, phenolic acid and polyphenols, peas provide protection to the immune system and protection against the effects of aging. Pisumsaponins and pisomosides, primarily found in peas, are two anti-inflammatory phytonutrients providing protection against heart disease. Also at work to keep the heart healthy? Generous levels of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and folate which lower homocysteine levels linked to a risk factor for heart disease.

While peas are low in fat, they are jam packed with fiber and only have 100 calories per cup making them a great choice for weight management. They contain a phytonutrient called coumestrol which has been linked to stomach cancer prevention. The high fiber content helps stave off constipation and keep the bowels running smoothly.

For optimum bone health and osteoporosis prevention, getting enough Vitamin K and B is key. Once cup of peas contains over 40% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K.

Peas are one of the best plants you can have in the garden to maintain healthy soil. The plant works with bacteria in the soil to replenish nitrogen levels. The plant easily breaks down into the soil after a crop has been harvested. They are also able to grow with minimal water, saving that valuable resource as well.

Soon after harvesting, much of their sugar content rapidly converts to starch so it’s best to consume them as soon as possible after they are picked. They can be kept in the refrigerator for two to three days, which helps to keep the sugars from turning to starch. If you are looking to freeze them for later use, blanch them for 1 to 2 minutes prior to putting them in the freezer where they can last from 6 months to a year.