Just Nuts About Nuts

Sacred Chestnut of Istan

The sacred chestnut of Istan

The Bundanoon Village Common Committee has now been formed and taken the first steps towards organising the project. If all goes to plan, we initially aim to plant a small grove of about nine hazelnut, four almond, two chestnut and two walnut trees in the Council reserve off Ellsmore Road next winter (2010). Why start with nut trees?

Mainly because from a sustainability and transition perspective it could be argued that nut trees give you most bang for the proverbial buck. Nut trees seem to also face less resistance from some councils and members of the community than do standard fruit trees. From a transition perspective, there’s the village green space amenity, increased food and medicinal/preventative health security and the potential for high-value wood and other materials – these are the main advantages of planting nut trees in public and private areas. Hopefully, people in other towns and villages in the shire might be inspired to plant nut trees too.

Scientific research has found that increased consumption of nuts and seeds may help prevent and even treat cancer (cf. Jean Carper, The Food Pharmacy). The protease inhibitors and polyphenols contained in seeds and nuts (and many organic vegetables) seem to interfere with the protease enzymes, oncogenes and free radicals involved in promoting the growth of cancerous cells. These protease inhibitors also seem to have anti-viral effects with respect to the viruses involved in influenza, leukaemia, respiratory infections and mumps. Most of us don’t eat enough nuts and seeds.

The following points list some of the additional potential uses and specific benefits of these four kinds of nut trees suited to our southern highlands climate.

Walnuts

  • Highest plant source of omega 3 fatty acids (as in oily fish) and polyphenols (as in blueberries, strawberries, grapes) that act as anti-oxidants blocking inflammations of the brain or spinal cord involved in the degeneration of neurones and the plaques associated with ageing and dementia; also lower cholesterol, prevent cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, may help with anxiety and depression
  • High in healthy polyunsaturated fat, calories, protein and essential nutrients often missing in modern and processed foods: phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, iron and the B vitamins (especially B 6, B 1, B 9)
  • Walnut oil is a high-value culinary oil and also good for treating skin problems, colic and for expelling tapeworms
  • Walnuts improve digestion and are mildly laxative after meals
  • The bark and dried leaves have been used as a laxative and to treat skin problems
  • Husks and shells are used to make a yellow or brown dye
  • Boiled fruit make a dark brown wood stain
  • Crushed shells are used for cleaning and polishing soft metals, fibreglass, plastics, wood, stone and are sometimes added to soap; shell powder is widely used in the plastics industry and is added to paint for thicker effects
  • The wood is a high quality cabinet and carving timber, is also used in gun stocks and instruments while burls can be turned to bowls

Almonds

  • Possibly the most and best protein of any nut and almost no carbohydrates, thus ideal for diabetics and people with gluten allergies
  • Very rich in vitamin E, potassium and phosphorous; 20 nuts provide 85% of recommended daily intake of vitamin E (anti-oxidant, heart health)
  • Good amounts of essential nutrients calcium, magnesium, sulphur, chlorine, sodium, iron, zinc, manganese and copper, as well as B vitamins
  • Monounsaturated fat reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases the ‘good’
  • Colonic laxative and shown to prevent colon cancer in rats
  • Anti-inflammatory, immune boosting: 1 ounce contains polyphenols with the anti-oxidant effects of half a cup of cooked broccoli
  • The high-value oil is used as a salad oil, skin emollient, massage oil, ingredient in soap
  • Almond milk, closer to maternal milk, is useful for invalids and babies
  • Chewing almonds provides good cleansing action for teeth

Hazelnuts

  • Have the highest fibre content of all the nuts (10%) and are high in healthy, essential monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
  • Very high in calcium, iron, phosphorous and the B complex vitamins
  • Provide a high-value spread or butter
  • Weight for weight hazels have 50% more protein than eggs, twice the phosphorous, four times the calcium, five times the vitamin B1 and are a third richer in iron
  • Weight for weight hazels have twenty times more iron than milk, twelve times the magnesium, three times the phosphorous, four times the potassium, six times the sulphur, twice the calcium
  • The wood is much used for coppice (poles) and can be used to make bows

Chestnuts

  • An ancient staple food in Eurasia where cereals were not grown and before the introduction of the potato, also excellent fodder for fattening up animals
  • Highest carbohydrates of the nuts, comparable with wheat and rice and with twice the starch of potatoes, low in fats and protein
  • The only nut containing vitamin C, with 50 mg in 100g of dried nuts, as much as in lemons
  • High in iron (three times that of apples) and the B complex vitamins
  • Much more fibre, calcium, potassium, and zinc than in apples
  • Used boiled/roasted, as flour, coffee substitute, thickener, in desserts
  • An infusion of dried leaves is very useful against respiratory infections and whooping cough
  • High tannin timber useful in coppice (10-30 year rotations) especially for durable fence posts, stakes, furniture, wine barrels, roof beams, firewood
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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 1, 2009.

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