Article by Kristy Fammartino, Abby’s Table co-founder, 2009.
Cashews have been a staple of my diet for years for the obvious reasons – they are a convenient, satisfyingly crunchy treat with rich, buttery flavor. Did I mention they come directly from a tree (can I ask for a more perfect, natural and unadulterated snack for my family?)
Well. Many Americans are so scared of the letters “F-A-T” on a nutrition label that they actually avoid nourishing their bodies with the good stuff in an effort to stay “thin” and healthy. What they are missing (besides the delightful spoons of goodness I indulge in every day) is that cashews contain primarily unsaturated fatty acids, 75% of which is oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Oleic acid found in cashews promotes good cardiovascular health by reducing high triglyceride levels which are associated with increased risk for heart disease. (Adapted from organiccashewnuts.com).
An excerpt from “The Skinny of Fats” by Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon:
The much-maligned saturated fats – which Americans are trying to avoid – are not the cause of our modern diseases. In fact, they play many important roles in the body chemistry:
- Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50% of the cell membranes. They are what gives our cells necessary stiffness and integrity.
- They play a vital role in the health of our bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of the dietary fats should be saturated.
- (Fats) lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease. They protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol.
- They enhance the immune system.
- They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids.
Elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats.
- Saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for the heart, which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated. The heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress.
- Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.
Coconut, which is found in both our Nude Pudding (Raw Chocolate Pudding) and Turmeric Coconut Sauce, has so many health supportive properties I can’t even list them all here, but I’ll highlight a few that may convince those of us who have shied away from it due to its “high fat content.” Not only does coconut provide a nutritional source of quick energy, it improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose, it relieves stress on the pancreas and enzyme systems of the body, it improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth, it helps protect against osteoporosis, it reduces inflammation, it is lower in calories than most other fats, it supports thyroid function, and most importantly, it does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oils. Need I say more? (If you’d like to see the source of this list in addition to the bounty of other nutritious benefits of eating coconut, click here).
With this, I say, indulge in our sweet, savory and rich sauces and dips knowing that they are chock-full of goodness for your bodies and your immunity – but, as with all things that are too good to be “true,” moderation is key. (This is why we have people like Chef Abby in the world, as people like me would most definitely consume a whole jar of Nude Pudding in one sitting if it weren’t for my constant friendly reminders from the holy goddess of good fats.)
Here’s to eating the food your body loves.