Are Seeds Better Than Nuts?

Nuts all around us. You can't look for Paleo Vegan recipes or Keto Vegan recipes without finding a big stack of recipes that use nuts as the foundation. Yes, nuts can be a healthy source of nutrients and fats. In fact I just recommended some pistachios to a client that needs some specific amino acids that they are low on. She also has some texture issues and so this was a good fit. However, it's not always great to eat a lot of nuts.

It is important to remember that nuts offer that Polyunsaturated Fat, which is not always great for our cells. PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats) can result in increased membrane levels that are tied to increased chronic inflammation. The most damaging PUFAs are the processed liquid cooking oils, and not the nuts. But it's unlikely that you are going to sit down and eat a handfuls of pepitas, but you may eat a handful or three of almonds. The fiber and monounsaturated, and saturated fat benefits of nuts or seeds is what we really need to focus on, especially with the high amount of metabolic issues we are seeing in our bodies, and in our kids.

The truth is that even seeds can be heavily PUFA saturated and so which choices are best for you?

What works best for my keto resetters is including chia seeds, as they are higher in the omega-3s than the omega-6s. they also are great for helping you to feel full when you add them to say a lovely pudding recipe. Flaxseeds are also a nice omega-3 fatty acid seed for those that do not eat grass-fed animals and mercury-laden fish. Flaxseed does have some good PUFA content, and so I wouldn't recommend cooking with it. Hemp... wow, it is a PUFA bomb, with a ton of omega-6's per serving. Head for chia and flax over hemp in those daily use seeds.

Before WW2 and the increased use of petroleum in our world, you would have used your soy, safflower and flaxseed oil to create varnishes and paints. Post war, they were turned into cattle and other farm animal feed before it started being used in our food supply. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, hazelnuts and peanuts are all very high in PUFAs, and very low in saturated fats. Which may be why they have been recommended for so long. The number of people I see buying into the defatted peanut butter, is shocking, but I understand why it impacts the body differently. The nuts that have higher saturated fat content are coconut, brazil nuts, macadamia and cashew. The seeds in this category are watermelon seeds, which are also great for extra protein, sesame seeds, and sunflower squeaks in at the edge just below pumpkin seeds and squash seeds.

Cell membranes require saturated fats, and your brain cell membranes has a fatty acid composition of higher monounsaturated fats with a corresponding lower total PUFA compared to all other tissues. I think this is important if we want to maintain cognitive processes as we age. So what the truth comes down to is that our body requires everything in the right balance. Lower PUFAs are needed, more so than higher PUFAs. If you are eating foods with vegetable oil, which could be fast food, packaged foods, restaurant food... you are getting more than enough PUFAs, and it's time to focus elsewhere in the fatty acid balance.



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