Thursday, July 19, 2012

Go Nuts - They are Nature's Perfect Food

When I was growing up, I suffered from asthma, allergies, respiratory problems, and a pretty regular assortment of childhood illness.  However, I wasn't bedridden or anything, and I still managed to lead a pretty active lifestyle - playing soccer and baseball, swimming and biking, and general hiking and tramping around.  So, despite a range of maladies, I maintained a degree of health that I think still impacts me today as a healthy - and health conscious - adult.

One reason I think I maintained reasonable health and have continued it into adulthood is because when I was a kid my mom didn't buy much junk food.  It wasn't being overly healthy - she just didn't want to spend the money on soda, chips, cookies, crackers, etc.  However, she was a pretty regular baker, and thus there were always those supplies in the house.  So, growing up my "snacks" were pretty much whatever my mom had around to bake with - walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.  And I ate a lot of nuts.  I can remember snacking in front of the TV with sunflower seeds and a handful of almonds.  Or celery/apples and peanut butter was the "go to" answer when I said in the middle of the day, "I'm hungryyyyy ...."  Thus, to this day, nuts are simply a natural part of my diet.  When I head to the pantry to snack, it's a handful of sunflower seeds or almonds.

For some great starter information about the value of nuts, then, it's worth checking out Carl Bartecchi's recent piece in the Pueblo Chieftain (reprinted in the Denver Post) about the value of nuts - "close to nature's perfect food."  Nuts are an integral part of nearly any healthy diet, and for years people like Dr. Mehmet Oz has been telling his viewers - and patients - if you're going to snack make it a handful of walnuts.  In fact, he recommends a handful everyday.  Of course, people have long warned that nut eaters should be careful because nuts have a lot of "fat" and they are high in calories.  That's a misnomer, though.  "Fat" does not make people fat - sugar is the far more sinister diet enemy.  And, the calories won't matter as much because nuts are filling - so people eat less and feel full.  That's not true with Doritos or Chips Ahoy.

Of course, the closer to natural form, the better.  Eating a can of honey roasted nuts, or nuts that are drowning in salt, is not the way to go.  But they don't have to be bland.  One of my favorite snacks is a spelt pretzel with a couple of almonds - the blend of sweet and salty is great - and it fills me up without making me full and bloated.  And some great places to find bulk nuts of high quality are at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

So, go nuts, people.

And, that's a key part of A Teacher's View on health.

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