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 Foods: Nuts 
 

Brazil Nuts. These are the very meaty and high-fat hard-shelled ?seeds? of which about 10?20 are found in each big fruit of the very large (nearly 100 feet high) Brazil nut trees. Brazil nuts are a good-quality protein, yet are also about two-thirds fat, of which over 20 percent is saturated. The oil from this nut turns rancid easily and is not used commercially.

Brazil nuts are known to be rich in calcium, as well as magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. Zinc and iron are also found in good proportions in this high-mineral nut.

Cashews. Cashews are thought by some to be a toxic nut, probably because of the caustic oils found in the hard shell. Lightly roasting cashews may help to clear these oils. These sweet nuts are the real fruit of their 25- or 30-foot trees that grow best in tropical climates. These trees also provide another ?fruit,? the edible ?cashew apple? that grows prior to the nut. Cashews are fairly rich in magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. Calcium is lower in cashews than in other nuts, as is manganese; cashews also have a lower fat and higher carbohydrate level than most other nuts. Some B vitamins are present, as is vitamin A, though very little vitamin E is found in cashews.

Chestnuts. These are the classic nut of the winter holiDay s throughout the world. Hot, roasted chestnuts can be a warming and nourishing snack for our innards. Chestnuts are very high in starch (carbohydrate) and low in protein and fats and therefore lower in calories (less than half) than other nuts. Chestnuts have lower levels of most minerals than other nuts, but they are still very good in manganese, potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Coconuts. The big nuts (fruits) of the common tropical palm tree, this large fruit has a thick husk covering, a very hard shell that surrounds the rich coconut meat. A nourishing liquid, called the coconut ?milk? comes from the soft meat of the fresh green coconut. When the coconut dries or ripens, this ?meat? becomes hard and much of the oils become saturated. The dried coconut meat contains about 65 percent oil, mainly as saturated fat which is solid or semisolid at room temperature. This oil, though, also has some nourishment and essential fatty acids and has been used in cooking and baking as well as in soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics. Coconut is used in cooking much more in the South Pacific and East Indian cultures than in ours, probably because they have fewer foods with good fat content. The fresh milk can be used as a marinade for fish, as salad dressing, or made into a yogurt-like dish. Coconut has a little protein, about 10 percent; some carbohydrate and fiber; and traces of the B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It has some amounts of many minerals, with potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and iron being the best.

Hazelnuts. These are the fruits or seeds of a small shrub or tree that usually grows between six and twelve feet tall. They are also called filberts because they ripen about the time of St. Philibert?s Day , August 20. The numerous varieties produce either round or elongated nuts. They are usually eaten raw or fried and are often used in confection making or as flavorings in sweet sauces.

Hazelnuts have one of the higher vitamin E levels of the nuts. Their protein content is about 15 percent, and they are nearly 65 percent fat, mostly unsaturated, being high in essential linoleic acid. Hazelnuts have a fairly good level of the B vitamins and are rich in most minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, and potassium, as well as some trace minerals, including zinc and selenium.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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