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Nuts and Seeds: Essential Fats, Minerals, and Protein

Nuts and seeds are the embryos from which future plants are propagated. Nuts are the edible kernels in hard shells from trees and bushes. Seeds are edible ripened plant ovules containing an embryo. Nuts and seeds are high in protein, calcium, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins E and B2, essential fatty acids, and fiber. Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of the mineral selenium. Selenium boosts your ability to neutralize free radicals and is needed for proper thyroid function.

The essential fats in nuts and seeds are needed for proper cell function and brain development. Scientific research has shown that a daily portion of just 1 ounce of nuts rich in monounsaturated fat can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 10%. The nuts highest in monounsaturated fat are almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Raw nuts and seeds can be eaten as a quick snack or used to add flavor, texture, and beneficial fats to a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes.

Raw nuts and seeds can be soaked, toasted, or lightly roasted with flavorings such as tamari and spices. Choose a variety of fresh raw nuts and seeds, and try to use organic whenever possible. Sea Vegetables: Essential Minerals and Trace Minerals The ocean contains a host of incredible plants, called sea vegetables, or seaweed. Seaweeds have been a staple in many parts of Asia for thousands of years. Sea vegetables offer us the broadest range of minerals of any food, containing all of the minerals from the ocean, which are exactly the 56 essential minerals and trace minerals that are necessary for the human body.

Sea vegetables are a rich source of iodine, folic acid, and magnesium, and a good source of iron, calcium, and the B vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid. In addition, seaweeds contain good amounts of lignans—plant compounds with cancer-protective properties. Use sea vegetables to add flavor, depth, and minerals to your recipes. Common sea vegetables include wakame, kombu, hijiki, arame, nori, and dulse.

Unrefined Oils: Essential Fats In a whole foods diet, the use of certain fats and oils helps us to feel satisfied and full, thus eliminating the need to overeat and fill up on less healthful foods. Fat is needed by our cell membranes to maintain integrity and to assist in cell communication. The use of healthy fats also provides our brains with the necessary nutrients for proper cognitive function. Avoid using safflower, sunflower, soy, canola, and corn oils because they are more refined and higher in polyunsaturated fats that can feed into inflammatory pathways in the body.

The oils that we recommend using daily are organic virgin coconut oil and organic extra-virgin olive oil. Virgin coconut oil contains the medium-chain triglyceride, lauric acid. Interestingly, lauric acid is the main fat found in human milk. This fat helps to destroy unwanted pathogens in the digestive tract, while promoting the growth of friendly flora. Lauric acid is readily burned for energy rather than being stored as fat in the body.

Virgin coconut oil is also a rich source of disease-preventing polyphenols. This fat remains relatively stable at higher temperatures and can be used for most of your cooking needs. Extra-virgin olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and natural antioxidants; it can be used to make salad dressings, used for sautéing at lower temperatures, and is delicious drizzled over steamed or raw vegetables. Natural

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