Nuts And Seeds - part 3

MACADAMIA NUT

The trees that bear macadamia nuts are indigenous to Australia and have got their name from the Australian naturalist and medical practitioner Dr. John MacAdam. Legend has it that Dr. MacAdam was the first person to discover that these nuts can be eaten.

An extremely tough, brown colored shell encloses the macadamia nut, while its kernel has a beige hue. The nut is roughly measured 1/2 inch to 1 inch across and is surrounded by a slender, meaty husk, which ruptures when the nut ripens. This nut has a somewhat sweet, cream-like, rich essence making it a favorite of food connoisseurs and quite expensive.

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Compared to all other nuts, macadamia nuts enclose the maximum amount of fat as well as calories. These nuts are a wonderful resource of several nutrients like thiamin, copper and magnesium, besides providing ample amounts of niacin and iron. The fat content in macadamia nuts is mostly monounsaturated fat.

Way back in the 1880s, macadamia nut trees were introduced to a number of areas in the United States. However, this nut became popular among the consumers as late as the 1930s brining the macadamia industry into existence. In the past, Hawaii has provided us with about 90 per cent of the entire macadamia nuts produced throughout the world. Nevertheless, cultivators in Florida as well as California too have now begun playing an important part in the domestic production of this nut. In addition, now people in Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela, South Africa, Guatemala, Samoa and Costa Rica too cultivate macadamia nuts.

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PECAN NUT

Pecan trees are a member of the plant family that also includes walnut trees and they grow in wild in the regions ranging between Illinois and Texas as well as Maryland and Florida. Actually, over 100 different types of pecans are grown all over the United States. However, commercial cultivation of these trees is restricted to the states having warm climatic conditions. Georgia is the leading pecan nut producing state in the US, producing over 33 per cent of the country's entire pecan nut production, which is approximately 200,000 tons (unshelled) every year.

Worldwide, pecan nuts are among the extensively grown nuts. This nut has an elongated shape and its exterior is wrinkled having a resemblance to walnuts. Pecan nuts have a butter-like taste. The shell that encloses pecan nut is glossy, brown colored, and can be broken open without any difficulty.

The fat present in pecan nuts is mainly derived from unsaturated fats. Precisely speaking, over 50 per cent of the fat found in pecan nuts originates from monounsaturated fats. These nuts form a wonderful resource of several nutriments, counting thiamin, phosphorus, zinc and copper. In addition, they also provide us with a good amount of essential minerals like potassium and iron.

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PISTACHIO NUT

The pistachio trees bear pistachio nuts in clusters. These trees are found growing in wild all over the central as well as western regions of Asia and are also grown in other different regions of the globe having warm climatic conditions.

Pistachio nuts are surrounded by husks that are fleshy. The nut also has a slight, firm shell having a tan hue and it ruptures partially when the nut matures. Unscrupulous distributors may sometimes dye the shells red or bleach them white to conceal the flaws. Within the shell lies a soft, light green kernel covered by a flimsy brown skin. The kernel of pistachio nuts has a supple and sweet taste that is imparted to desserts.

You ought to store both shelled as well as unshelled pistachio nuts in sealed container and keep them in a refrigerator, because doing so will help to keep the nuts edible for about three months. You can buy pistachio nuts throughout the year. Nutritionally, pistachio nuts are a wonderful resource of thiamin, iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.

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SAFFLOWER SEED

For several centuries, people in China, India, Egypt and Persia have grown the safflower plant and it was introduced into the US as late as 1925. Currently, India continues to be the leading producer of these seeds. The safflower seeds have many different common names, including safflower, saffron thistle and false saffron. They measure approximately one-fourth of an inch in length and have an elongated shape.

Safflower seeds are a very good resource of riboflavin, thiamin, magnesium and iron, in addition to supplying us with good amounts of niacin and potassium.

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SESAME SEED

The seeds of the sesame plant are minute, oval shaped and even having a very delicate hull, which is also edible. These are available in a range of colors, including white, black, red, brown or yellow. Compared to the dark colored seeds, those having light hues are preferred.

Approximately 40% to 60% of the weight of sesame seeds comprises its oil. Sesame seeds are a very good plant resource of thiamin, riboflavin, iron and phosphorus, besides supplying a good amount of potassium. The fat contained by sesame seeds is mainly derived from polyunsaturated fat.

SQUASH SEED

Although currently squash plants are grown all over the world, in the initial day, as far back as 8,000 B.C., indigenous people collected this fruits of this plant primarily for their seeds. When the early European settlers arrived in North America, they found that plant was extensively cultivated by the American Indians as an ordinary crop.

While majority of people are accustomed to consuming the flesh of this fruit, very few are aware that even the squash seeds are very flavourful and nourishing. Among all squash seeds consumed by people in the U.S., pumpkin seed is the most common and well liked. The seeds of pumpkin are even having one end smoothed, while the other end gets thinner to form a point. These seeds have a beige color and measure roughly 3/4 inch in length. The seeds have a green colored kernel inside and have a subtly nut-like flavour. People in Mexico refer to pumpkin seeds as pepitas and use them in several popular dishes.

Besides the summer squash, usually, people also consume the seeds of the winter variety. The squash plants are harvested when the fruits are ripe and, therefore, by this time the seeds are completely mature. On the other hand, summer squash is consumed prior to it and its seeds too are completely ripe. Seeds of several other squash, such as the buttercup squash, acorn squash and butternut squash, are also consumed commonly. Incorporating these seeds in your diet makes it healthier, as they enclose high amounts of potassium as well as phosphorus. In addition, squash seeds are also an excellent resource of riboflavin and thiamin. Less than 50 per cent of fats contained by squash seeds are derived from polyunsaturated fat.

SUNFLOWER SEED

Plants belonging to the sunflower genus comprise over 100 species. While plants of this genus are presently cultivated across the globe, they are believed to have their origin in South America or the western region of North America. The U.S. as well as the nations that comprised the erstwhile Soviet Union are some of the largest producers of sunflower seeds.

The seeds of sunflower measure roughly one-fourth inch in length, and are angular having a tan, greyish green or black color. The sunflower seeds are surrounded by thin shells, which generally have black and white stripes. Although there are over 100 sunflower species, only two varieties are commercially cultivated. The species called the Russian variety is mostly cultivated for oil, as its seeds enclose over 40% oil as per weight. On the other hand, the North America type bears comparatively large seeds and is cultivated for consumption by humans as well as bird food.

Despite the fact that sunflower seeds contain high amounts of calories as well as fat, most of the fats enclosed by them are derived from unsaturated fat. Moreover, sunflower seeds are rich in nutriments and also a wonderful source of niacin, folic acid, zinc and potassium. Sunflower seeds also contain high amounts of dietary fiber. It is best to store sunflower seeds in a place away from heat and moisture. Shelled sunflower seeds ought to be kept in a refrigerator with a view to prevent them from rotting.

WALNUT

As many as 20 different deciduous species are commonly called walnut and these include the pecan and hickory trees. The two most widespread varieties of walnut are called the English walnut, also called the Persian walnut, and the black walnut.

The black walnut bears a meaty green colored fruit that encloses the nut and also serves as a cushion for it when the mature fruit drops on the ground. Some effort is needed to break open the edible kernel from the chunky, woody shell of the nut. Substances contained within the walnut fruit may possibly blemish your hands while handling them.

On the other hand, it is much easier to remove the English walnut variety's kernel from its shell - which is much thin as well as simple to break open. This is one of the reasons why the English walnut is cultivated commercially on a more extensive scale.

From the perception of nutrition, walnuts form a wonderful resource of thiamin, copper, zinc and phosphorus. In addition, they also provide us with ample amounts of potassium and iron. Over 70% of the fat content of walnut is derived from polyunsaturated fat.

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