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  • Discovering the Cashew Nut

    It’s tasty, it’s crunchy and full of nutrients, but how much do you really know about the world’s favorite nut - the cashew?

    Nuts and kernels have always been a favorite snack of mine, and the world’s. They are just the perfect bitesize, are super salty and just crunchy enough to crack but not scratch the inside of your mouth. However, one nut stands out among them all, the cashew. I have had cashews in every possible way: cooked in food, raw, roasted and even covered in chocolate, but there was much about the nut I didn't know until recently.

    To start off with, I discovered that the cashew nut is not a nut at all, it’s actually the seed of a fruit known as the cashew apple. Although it looks like something you would want to try out, you most likely never will because they are very perishable, meaning that it will rot quickly after picking. So unless you travel to some tropical forest where cashew trees grow, your chances of trying the cashew apple are very slim.

    However, the cashew apple’s pulp is processed and fermented into a very popular sweet fruit drink and liquor in Brazil.

    The second thing I learned was that all cashew nuts are roasted, even the raw ones. Even more so, since the outer shell of the cashew nut is acidic and can cause serious skin irritations, all nuts are boiled or roasted before they are cracked open by hand and then roasted again.

    While we in the western part of the world know the cashew as a snack or even a treat, it is part of many cuisines around the world, and is used in cooking in places like China, India and Pakistan, among other Asian countries.

    Despite this, the cashew tree is actually not native to eastern Asia, but in fact to an area stretching between Central and South America, including the Caribbean Islands. It was the Portuguese colonists in Brazil who began exporting it during the 1550s and introduced it to the world.

    Even though it’s hard to imagine, the cashew nut has many industrial uses as well. Its shells have been used in the production of lubricants, waterproofing material, paints, and arms since the late 30s.

    Moreover, the “nut” and the fruit are not the only useful part of the cashew tree. In ancient Maya traditional medicine, the tree’s barks and leaves were brewed into a tea that would help them cure diarrhea.

    Although this is not all the cashew tree, or the nut has to offer, I will suffice with this information because it was enough to blow my mind and change the way I looked at the cashew nut. If you know any other interesting facts, please share them with us in the comment section.

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  • The Unknown Superfood You Should Be Eating Every Day

    What has more fibre than oats, twice as much Vitamin E as kiwi fruit and more potassium than bananas, yet is practically unheard of? The answer is tiger nuts, an ancient superfood that is now poised for a comeback.

    Tiger nuts, which are also called chufas or earth almonds, actually aren't nuts at all, but tubers that grow underground, just like peanuts. While they used to be part of our ancestors' staple diet, few people today are familiar with tiger nuts outside of West Africa and Spain, where they're grown. That's too bad, because there are many reasons why you should incorporate tiger nuts into your daily diet!

    Got Guts Tiger Nuts from This Is Nuts Sweden

    Tiger nuts are small and naturally sweet, and have a slightly chewy texture. They're a good source of minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, as well as heart-healthy unsaturated fats. But it's the high content of prebiotic fibre that really gives the tiger nut its well-deserved superfood status. Prebiotic fibre consists of insoluble carbohydrates that pass through the stomach and small intestine without being digested, all the way to the colon, where they become food for good bacteria, or probiotics. Together, probiotics (which are prevalent in some yogurts and fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh and saurkraut) and prebiotics help diversify and boost your microbiome, essentially trillions of bacteria and fungi that researchers believe influence everything from your metabolism and body weight to your immune system, appetite and mood. Several studies have shown that a diverse and flourishing microbiome can reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, allergy, inflammatory diseases and more.

    Even though tiger nuts are fairly high in carbohydrates they have a low glycemic index (GI), which helps keep your body’s blood sugar and insulin levels stable. That makes them an ideal snack for diabetics. And since tiger nuts are 100% nut-free and gluten-free, they're also an excellent option for people with food sensitivities and allergies. A handful of tiger nuts makes for a perfect, mess-free snack between meals or as a side for your breakfast. Bring them to work, when you’re on the go or whenever you get a craving for something sweet. In Spain, where the tiger nut is cultivated, it’s common to make milk (horchata), and flour from tiger nuts. The flour is a popular ingredient for both baking and cooking, as a healthier and gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.

    Tiger nuts are typically not available in regular grocery stores but can be found in some well-stocked specialty stores and online. In the Nordic countries, This Is Nuts Sweden is the exclusive distributor of vapor-roasted Got Guts Tiger Nuts, a new and unique treatement that enriches the flavour and natural goodness of the tiger nut. This Is Nuts also offers Get Real Tiger Meal, a completely nut-free and gluten-free flour made from ground tiger nuts. The flour can be used for both baking and cooking, for example it's an excellent choice for the kid favourite pancakes! 
    Got Guts Tiger Nuts
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  • Five Health Benefits of Olive Oil That You Probably Don’t Know of

    You may have heard the claim that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest on the planet and yes, it lives up to the hype. This is in no small part because it includes an abundance of fruits, vegetables and – of course – the almighty olive oil. The fact that olive oil is good for the heart and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease is well established at this point, but are you familiar with some of the lesser-known health benefits of olive oil?

    Olive oil benefits our health in many ways.

    1. It is anti-inflammatory
      Researchers have found that newly pressed premium extra virgin oil sometimes leaves a subtle stinging sensation in the back of the throat when you taste it. This is actually a good thing, since it means the oil is rich in oleocanthal, a natural anti-inflammatory chemical which has the same effect on the body as ibuprofen. The chemical inhibits the activity of certain enzymes that cause inflammation, which could be one of the main reasons why people who eat a Mediterranean diet appear to be healthier.
    2. It may reduce the risk of breast cancer
      The vast majority of the fat in olive oil comes from monounsaturated fatty acids, which appear to help protect women, or more specifically postmenopausal women, against breast cancer. A study of over 4000 women aged 60-80 years showed that those who included 1 liter of extra virgin olive oil per week had a 62 percent lower risk of getting breast cancer compared with the women in the control group, who were advised to follow a low-fat diet. And with olive oil, it turns out that less is not more. The women whose olive oil consumption made up at least 15 percent of their daily caloric intake had a significantly lower breast cancer risk than those whose consumption was less than 5 percent.
    3. It may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease
      New research suggests that extra virgin oil may help our bodies clean out toxic substances that otherwise build up in the nerve cells and contribute to cognitive disorders. According to one study on mice, animals whose diets were supplemented with extra virgin oil had more functional brain connections and better memory at the end of the trial compared with mice in the control group. They were also less susceptible to cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
    4. It can help you maintain or lose weight
      For many years, fat was considered the nemesis of a healthy body weight and weight loss gurus and the government alike prescribed a low-fat diet. Today, the tables have turned and research has shown that fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat, especially if you choose healthy unsaturated fats. One study showed that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil even can make you lose weight.
    5. It may help prevent and control Type 2 diabetes
      There is substantial evidence that olive oil has a preventive effect on Type 2 diabetes, possibly due to its high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols, natural compounds found in plants that are believed benefit human health. Olives and olive oil are also the only dietary sources of oleuropein, a substance that helps regulate blood sugar levels and metabolism by telling the pancreas to release insulin.

    Aceituno Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Researchers keep finding more health benefits of olive oil and many physicians now recommend eating it daily. But before you run to the store to stock up on the liquid gold of the Mediterranean, let’s make clear that not all olive oils are created equal. There is lower quality olive oil and there is extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO as it’s known in the food industry. To reap all the health benefits of olive oil, make sure you choose a high-quality or even premium or ultra premium EVOO (learn more about the difference here). Beware that some of the healthy compounds in the oil start to break down at high temperatures, so if you want to preserve all the nutrients, it’s better to eat the oil cold on salads or with bread, or add it to the food after it’s already cooked, as a flavour enhancer.

    Enjoy!

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