Cashews are they really good for you?

You’ve pat yourself on that back for choosing cashews over the chocolate bar. You are trying to lose weight and it makes sense, you hear it over and over that nuts are better for you. Although this is true, you may be shocked to find out that the chocolate may have been an over all healthier choice after all!

How? Depends on whether or not you read the flip-side.  Did you read the ingredient list posted on the back of the package? If you did not you may be in for a shock!

Would it not be wonderful to live in a world where what you see is what you get? We don’t and you need to take responsibility to get the whole story; that means not only reading the ingredient list, but understanding what the ingredients mean.

I was faced with this dilemma recently in an airport. I forgot my snacks and had to get something for the 4 hour long ride. I found a wall with packages of nuts and grabbed the cashews because they are healthier than the peanuts and would keep me satiated longer than a chocolate bar due to it rich essential fatty acids-what a shocker; I almost fell for it!

This particular package of cashews had questionable ingredients, and if you have a peanut allergy this product may have caused some serious issues including death!

Cottonseed oil, soybean oil, peanut oil and salt. Sounds OK right? Read on.  Often partially or fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil is extracted from the seeds of the cotton plant after harvest of the lint. The oil is then refined to remove gossypol, a naturally occurring toxin that protects the cotton plant from insect damage.

Cottonseed oil was the first oil to be hydrogenated and was originally intended for candle production but was found useful for nonfood products such as cosmetics, explosives, insecticides, rubber and soap. The first introduction as a food product was Crisco shortening.

Since cotton crops are under less chemical regulation than other crops used specifically for food, many pesticides and/or chemicals can be used on cotton crops that are illegal for use on food crops.

Because it is the seed of the plant that is being manufactured into oil, legal loopholes in the regulation of food and chemicals by the FDA are permitted. Pesticides and/or chemicals could resist processing and find their way into the food allowing for unacceptable levels of pesticide and chemical residues.

Soybean oil is produced from the cracked soybean, adjusted for moisture content, rolled into flakes and then the oil is extracted with hexane. Hexane is a colorless flammable liquid alkane derived from petroleum used to extract edible oils from seeds and vegetables.

Hexane is also used as a special-use solvent, and as a cleaning agent. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
“Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to high levels of hexane causes mild central nervous system (CNS) effects, including dizziness, giddiness, slight nausea, and headache.  Chronic (long-term) exposure to hexane in air is associated with polyneuropathy in humans, with numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache, and fatigue observed.  Neurotoxic effects have also been exhibited in rats.  No information is available on the carcinogenic effects of hexane in humans or animals. “

Although soybean oil has some health benefits, what the manufacturing industry has done to it outweighs the benefits. Most soybean grown in North America are genetically modified, and scientific data are beginning to surface about the potential of GMO’d soybeans having the ability to alter our intestinal  flora, which is responsible for keeping our immune system healthy.

Genetically modified plants requires extra pesticides/herbicides and chemicals to keep super bugs, which have become genetically modified from attacking the plants. This allows for contamination into and on the plant during growth and harvest.

Soybeans are an important global crop, used for farm animals and the food industry. This is of concern because research and documents are revealing that soy consumption has been linked to numerous disorders, including infertility, increased cancer and infantile leukemia, Type1 diabetes, and precocious puberty in children fed soy formula.

Hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, cognitive, immune system breakdown, and even heart disease and cancer.

Peanut oil has beneficial properties of oleic acid and omega-6 linoleic acid, however high amounts of Omega-6 cause inflammation in our body. Inflammation is responsible for most disease, ailments and conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The bigger concern is peanuts become contaminated with Aspergillus flavus, a mold fungus that releases aflatoxin which can cause a deadly reaction for some people. If you suffer from inflammatory type conditions such as gout, arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease you need to steer clear of all peanut and peanut oil products.

There are acceptable products out there, and easy to find, but it requires a little detective work on your part. Disregard the marketing language on the package and flip the product over and read the truth. If there are questionable ingredients or you cannot pronounce them, or know what they are; put the package down and walk away!

Look For Raw Nuts

Raw nuts contain all of their beneficial health properties. If you cannot find raw look for dry roasted. Dry roasted means the nut has not been fired in questionable cheap oil. Sea salt is a better choice over salt or sodium.

If you cannot find nuts with sea salt purchase nuts with our added salt. Avoid all nuts that contain the oils mentioned above including canola oil. Canola oil is another controversial plant this genetically modified. And has caused a lot of grief for farmers, you can read more here. //  or  //
Steer clear of additives and preservatives such as sulphites, nitrates, and nitrates. They are for the most part poorly tested and may cause allergies and sensitivities and are carcinogenic.

Don’t give up on choosing healthy snacks, arm yourself with knowledge, flip to the backside and make a healthy conscious decision. The more we say no to products with questionable unhealthy ingredients the more we send the message to the manufactures   that we want healthier options. Companies spend thousands of dollars trying to market to our tastes and they are finally listening.

The trend for 2012 according to Food Processing magazines is that consumers are getting back to the basics. They want natural foods with little to no ingredients. The more you keep their products on the shelf that we don’t want, the quicker the manufacture will make the shift to healthier products-trust me it will be in the blink of an eye. Now is the time to take a stand!

Watch a great video that goes with this article:

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article has not been approved by the FDA or Health Canada and is not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. This article is not recommending changing any treatment or medication you are taking without consulting with your personal physician or qualified health care practitioner. Before implementing any suggestions seen here please consult with your physician or qualified health care practitioner

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About Karen Langston:

“© 2012 Karen Langston is a Certified Nutritionist specializing in Crohn’s disease. She is also a speaker and Host of The Wellness Beat. Sign up for a free weekly subscription to Karen’s Healthy Bites EZine for great tips, videos, recipes, interviews and exclusive articles, prizes and more.”

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