by Rock Riggs

Nuts are a great alternative to meat for millions of vegetarians all over the world. They are a good source of protein and fiber, naturally free of cholesterol, and are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Nuts are very versatile and can used in recipes, as a snack, as nut butters, and in a variety of desserts. You might be familiar with the Adventist Health Study, which reports that those vegetarians who eat nuts five or more times a week have a reduced risk for both fatal and nonfatal coronary disease. The Nurses' Health Study also found that women who consume 5 or more servings of nuts per week had a 35% reduced risk for coronary heart disease. So with these interesting findings in mind, I would like to tell you a little bit about a few of my favorite nuts.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts have an excellent taste and a light, creamy texture. They are especially known for having high fat content, but this should not keep you from eating mac nuts in moderation. Actually, mac nuts are high in fat, but most of the fat is monosaturated and this type of fat helps to lower artery clogging LDL. Mac nuts also have relatively high levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. Mac nut oil is very good for cooking and is healthier than a lot of oils because it doesn't breakdown as easily as other oils at high temperatures. Many people might think that macadamia nuts are native to Hawaii, but actually they are indigenous to Queensland, Australia. The macadamia nut tree grows in tropical rain forests and was first brought to Hawaii in 1882. They are now grown primarily in Costa Rica, Australia, and South Africa.

Almonds

Almonds are known as the "king of nuts" and are the most highly cultivated nut in the world. They are delicious both raw and roasted and have a nice crunchy texture. Many of my friends tell me that soaking raw almonds in water for about half an hour increases their nutritional value and makes them more easily digestible. Almonds are great for making nut butter or as an alternative to dairy as almond milk. They are a great source of protein, Vitamin E, calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Almonds were first cultivated in the Eastern Mediterranean, but are now also grown in California, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa.

Cashews

The Cashew is a light flavored nut and is native to the tropical areas of South America. Cashews are actually the seeds of the cashew apple, which is a colorful fruit produced by the tree. The cashew tree has the interesting distinction of being related to mango, pistachio, and poison ivy. Cashews are great as a nut butter, as a snack, and are wonderful in soup. They are a good source of protein, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, and potassium. Cashews are now grown primarily in India and Brazil and are the second most cultivated nut behind the almond. As you can see, nuts are a great, nutritious food that should be an essential part of any healthy, vegetarian diet. Down to Earth carries macadamia nuts, almonds, cashews, and 15 other varieties of nuts in the bulk section of our stores. Many of the nuts we offer are raw and organic. So come on by Down to Earth and pick up the quantity that you would like and make "every day a nutty day"!