Vitamins and minerals in fresh food.

November 10th, 2012 → 2:45 am @

Pistachio nuts


 Pistachios were originally grown in western Asian countries, but now grow extensively in America, China and still in Turkey, Iran, and Syria.

They belong to the anarcardaceae of the genus Pistacia. The fruit is actually a drupe and the seed is the edible portion. They grow in a bunch like grapes.

They are a high source of energy and nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. They are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and help the cholesterol levels to balance, as all the nuts so far. They are rich in phyto-chemical substances, which may contribute to their anti-oxidant activity, including carotenes, vitamin E and poly-phenolic anti oxidant compounds.

VITAMINS: Very high: E, B6, B1, High: A, B2, B9, B5, Good: B3, C.

MINERALS: Very high: Coper, Phosphorous, Iron, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium.

Pistachios are beautiful when eaten raw. They are used extensively in the kitchen. Baklava, a sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo pastry, filled with chopped pistachios, almonds and cashews and sweetened with honey, is a delightful dish, popular in the middle eastern countries. Very sweet though!

NOTE. Some people have an allergy to pistachios, due to a chemical compound called anacardic acid. (urushiol). This allergy can present itself as a simple skin itching to severe anaphylactic manifestations, eg.: breathing difficulties, abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.



 We all know the pumpkin, but the real pumpkin seeds called Pepitas, come from the pumpkin “Cucurbita pepo”, which was originally grown in

Mexico and has been grown in Austria, Slovenia and Hungary for a long time.

In these countries, there is little or no prostate cancer, due to the consumption of these pumpkin seeds. All other pumpkin seeds are edible though and can be used in cooking or adding to cooked foods. You should save your pumpkin seeds and dry them in a heated oven at extremely low temperatures and grind them into a meal.

The cucurbita pepo, is what they call a “naked seed” pumpkin, their seed is NOT in a shell, so it is easy to harvest. The seeds are very dark green and quite large and flat, compared to the regular pumpkin seeds.

They are rich in calories, fibre, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Also they help in balancing the cholesterol levels like all nuts and seeds. They contain the amino acids tryptophan and glutamate. Tryptophan, once converted to serotonin, becomes a natural sleeping pill. Glutamate is required in the synthesis of y-amino butyric acid, which is an anti-stress neuro-chemical in the brain, reducing stress, anxiety and nervous irritability.

VITAMINS: Very high: E. High: B3, B1, B5, B9, B2, B6. Some: C.

MINERALS: Very high: Manganese, Phosphorous, Copper, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc. High: Selenium. Some: Calcium.

These seeds should be eaten raw and used on a daily basis. You can just have a snack of them or they may be used in a variety of dishes, such as breads, casseroles, biscuits etc. Deserts like ice creams and dishes like meat, poultry rice and vegetables. The oil from the pepitas is a green oil and has a beautiful flavour. In Australia ask your health food store for the “Green Oil”, produced in Queensland.



The sesame seed has been grown for centuries, for its culinary, medicinal and nutritive properties in China, Burma and India. Now it is also grown as a commercial crop in Nigeria, Sudan and Ethiopia. Its scientific name is Sesamum Indicum. The oils from the sesame, produce phyto nutrients such as Omega-6 fatty acids, flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins and dietary fibre, with potent anti cancer properties.

The sesame seed are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and help to balance the cholesterols High in protein and good quality amino acids for growth, especially in children. They are high in a number of health benefitting compounds such as Sesamol and Sesaminol, which help stave off harmful free radicals. Also rich in vitamins and minerals.

VITAMINS: Very high: B1, B6, B3, B9. High: B2. Some: E.

MINERALS: Extremely high: Copper, Iron, Manganese, Calcium, Magnesium. High: Phosphorous, Zinc and Selenium.

Sesame seeds are very flavoursome and when they are very lightly roasted, this becomes even more obvious. Tahini paste is delicious on a number of dishes and one of my favourite mixes is:

Unhulled Tahini, a little honey and chilli to taste as a spread over toasted whole meal bread or crackers. Very yummy!

In Japan, Gomashio is a speciality and sesame seeds are used here. The oil is very much sought after in Malaysian and Indonesian cooking.

  • Always buy the UNHULLED VARIETY, as it has all the necessary vitamins and minerals in them. Also, crush them before consumption for 100% absorption. Whole seeds do not digest very well and we do not chew enough today.

  • The calcium value drops almost 90% from unhulled to hulled. That is amazing isn’t it?



 We all know the sunflower, the beautiful yellow flower on a tall stem, following the sun all day. It belongs to the Asteraceae family of the genus Helianthus. It is a native of Central America. Today they are cultivated the world over as an oil seed plant.

They are high in energy, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. They too help to balance the cholesterol levels in the body. High in calories and proteins and fine quality animo acids such as tryptopan, essential for growth in children. It also contains polyphenol compounds such as chlorgenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acid, which are natural antioxidants. Chlorgenic acid helps reduce blood sugars levels by reducing the breakdown of glycogen in the liver.

VITAMINS: Extremely high: E, B1, B6, B9, B3. High: B2, B5. Some: C and A.

MINERALS: Very high: Copper, Selenium, Phosphorous, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc. Good: Potassium. Some: Calcium and Sodium.

In cooking, the sunflower seeds are used widely as additions to dishes of all kinds. In Germany, a flour is made from the seeds and is baked into a bread called “sonnenblumenbrot”, sunflower bread.

The oil from sunflowers is used extensively in the kitchen and in the production of margarines.


 Walnuts are a northern hemisphere nut and has been revered as a symbol of intellectuality, as the shape of the naked nut resembles the brain.

The walnut is member of the family Juglandaceae of the genus Juglan.

There are a lot of varieties of walnuts, but only three are commercially grown. These days they are commercially grown in the USA, China and central Europe.

Apart from the kernel, which is eaten raw and used in cooking, the oil extracted from it is used as a carrier oil in medicine and aromatherapy.

They are a rich source of energy and contain many health benefiting nutrients, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.

A good source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, like oleic acid and an excellent source of important omega-3 essential fatty acids. Again, the consumption of walnuts on a regular basis, helps to lower bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol. Only 25 grams a day provides 90% of our daily recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acid.

These nuts contain many phyto-chemicals, that may contribute to the overall anti-oxidant activity, including melatonin, ellagic acid, vit E, carotenoids and polyphenolic compounds, helping in the fight against cancer, ageing, inflammation and neurological diseases.

VITAMINS: Very high: E. High: B6, B1, B9, B2, B5. Good: B3. Little: C and K.

MINERALS: Very high: Copper, Manganese. High: Phosphorous, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc. Some: Calcium, Potassium and Selenium.

Walnuts are so nice when eaten fresh from the trees, but sometimes they are better to dry a little and certainly easier to get out of the shell.

In the kitchen they are used in a variety of ways and can be added to salads, baked in cakes, in confectionary. Walnut butter is beautiful used instead of peanut butter.


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