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he Nut Gourmet

Buddy Up with Nuts

© Zel Allen

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled The Nut Gourmet by Zel Allen . View all columns in series

Taking a closer look at the nutritional profile of a single nut variety, raw almonds, for example, you’ll find that 3.5 ounces contain 21.3 grams of protein, 11.8 grams of fiber, 248 milligrams of calcium, 728 milligrams of potassium, 3.3 milligrams of zinc, and 261 milligrams of vitamin E. Other nut varieties are equally healthful.

Recognizing that people who ate nuts regularly had a lower risk of cardiac arrest, researchers wanted to ferret out the specific component in nuts that endows them with the ability to cut that risk. All nuts, they found, contained high levels of arginine, an amino acid that helps the body manufacture nitric oxide that relaxes and widens blood vessels.

Red meat and dairy products also contain arginine, but some nuts actually contain much more, making them a superfood. For instance, almonds, peanuts, and pine nuts boast 2.73, 2.89, and 2.10 grams of arginine respectively for 3.5 ounces. Beef cuts like top sirloin, T-bone, and rib roast don’t quite measure up, with figures of less than two grams for the same quantity. The arginine in milk doesn’t even register one gram.

Count on nuts, with their abundant supply of arginine to benefit the body by increasing blood flow and helping to unclog the arteries. This amino acid may also help to prevent deposits of cholesterol in the arteries.

Best of all, nuts are one of Mother Nature’s favorite treasures preserved for long storage in their own special protective casing where nothing unhealthful is added and nothing valuable removed.

Not only are they delicious and healthful, but nuts are also today’s ultimate convenience food. Fifty or sixty years ago it was challenging to find affordable nuts already shelled and ready to eat. Shoppers had to buy them in the shell and crack them at home. Today, shelled nuts of every variety are available in local markets.

Nuts are easy to include in your daily regimen. Add a sprinkling of chopped nuts over your breakfast cereal or dinner salad. Grind them into a powdery meal in a blender or food processor and use them to thicken soups and sauces. Add a handful of nuts to the blender when preparing a fruit smoothie. Stuff the cored center of apples with nuts and raisins and enjoy a delicious baked apple for dessert. You’ll find it’s easy to become partners in health when you make friends with nuts.


Alper, C.M., R.D. Mattes. 2003. Peanut consumption improves indices of cardiovascular disease risk in healthy adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 22:133-41.

Coates, A.M., P. R. Howe. 2007. Edible nuts and metabolic health. Current Opinion in Lipidology. 18(1):25-30

Feldman, E.B. 2002. The scientific evidence for a beneficial health relationship between walnuts and coronary heart disease. Journal of Nutrition. 132(5):10625-11015

Garg, M.L., R.J. Blake, R. B. Wills, E.H. Clayton. 2007. Macadamia nut consumption modulates favourable risk factors for coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Lipids. 42(6):583-7

Jenkins, D.J., C.W. Kendall, A Marchie, T.L. Parker, P.W. Connelly, W. Qian, J.S. Haight, D. Faulkner, E. Vidgen, K.G. Lapsley, G.A. Spiller. 2002. Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Circulation. 106(11):1327-32.

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About The Author
With a focus on healthy eating, compassion for animals, and environmental consciousness, her vegan journey led Zel Allen to partner with her husband, Reuben, to publish Vegetarians in Paradise. Their online publication is read by more than 125,000 visitors monthly In addition to her articles, the e-zine spotlights her humorous illustrations and her......more
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