Nuts are seeds of certain trees. Unlike the seed of the peach and plum, they possess no edible capsule. The peach, once a bitter almond, has developed, under cultivation, a delicious edible capsule. The peach seed, has a taste like that of the almond. The capsules of the pecan, walnut, chestnut, cocoanut, almond, hazelnut, hickory nut, etc., are not edible. They are tough, fibrous materials containing tannic acid and other foul tasting substances that protect the seed from being eaten until it is matured. Botanically, nuts are classed as fruits, as they develop from pollinated flowers. Because the nut is the seed of the tree and is not the edible pulp that surrounds the seed, as is the edible portion of the peach or plum, nuts are discussed in a separate chapter and are not considered in the chapter on fruits.
Paleontologists tell us that primitive man was a nut eater. All over the face of the earth man has used nuts as food from time immemorial. There are many kinds of nuts and these have all proven excellent sources of food, not alone for man, but for the lower primates and many other animals, including many birds. They are rich in food values, delightfully flavored and keep for extended periods so that man, as well as the squirrel, may store them for future use. Many animals besides squirrels eat large quantities of nuts. Many of the birds make use of the nut as an article of food. Horses will consume great quantities of acorns. While they will eat fruit from the trees, they eat acorns off the ground after they have fallen. Hogs eat so many hickory nuts that in certain parts of the country they are called pig-nuts. Horses are also fond of pecans.
The nut tree, like the fruit tree, strikes its roots deep into the earth, where they take up the precious minerals, and sends its limbs high into the space above, where, from air and sun, they take in the carbon, that enable the majestic tree to produce its wonderfully nutritious seed.
Day after day, through spring, summer and autumn, the great sun drives the river mists before it and sends down through the softly whispering foliage a thousand shafts of burnished gold that drain the nectarous dew-drop from its chalice and kiss the nut until its youthful, mineral-laden sap changes to delightful food beneath their passionate caresses.
It takes months of sunshine to perfect the nut and when it is completed it is a veritable store house of mineral sand high-grade protein, emulsified oil and health-imparting vitamins. Packed in a nature-made, water-proof and air-tight shell, the nut-meat comes to us clean and wholesome. Hermetically sealed the nut does not become contaminated and spoiled as does meat, for example. Nuts are free from waste products, are aseptic and do not readily decay, either in the body or outside of it. They are not infested with parasites (trachinae, tape-worm, etc.), as are meats.
Nuts, particularly the pecan, produce more food per acre than any other product and no one need eat animal products so long as these delightful foods are to be had. They are not to be considered as a "meat substitute." The meat is the "substitute," as Prof. Sherman, of Columbia University, says.
Kellogg says that "nuts are the choisest of all substances capable of sustaining life," and that in "nutritive value the nut far exceeds all other food substances." Also, "The nut is the choisest aggregation of the materials essential for the building of sound human tissues, done up in a hermetically sealed package, ready to be delivered by the gracious hand of Nature to those who are fortunate enough to appreciate the value of this finest of earth's bounties."
Nuts are rich in minerals, particularly iron and lime. Pecans are rich in potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts contain an average percentage of iron of about two and a half times that of fruit, three times that of vegetables, greater than that of cereals and more than average meats. The almond is rich in iron and lime. One pound of almonds contains as much calcium as twenty-five pounds of beef, or eleven pounds of bread and potatoes. The almond is twice as rich in blood-building elements as meat and is very rich in bone-building elements, in which meat is sadly lacking.
Most nuts are abundant in vitamins A and B. The researches of Cajori demonstrated the abundant presence of growth-promoting vitamins in pecans, English walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, pine nuts, filberts, and hickory nuts.
Most nuts are rich in oils. The fats (oils) of nuts are the most easily digested and assimilated of all forms of fat. Kellogg says: "The fat of nuts exists in a finely divided state and in the chewing of nuts a fine emulsion is produced so that the nuts enter the stomach in a form adapted for prompt digestion."
Nuts are fairly rich in starch and sugar, and are three to four times richer in vitally important salts than animal flesh, even richer than milk in these vital substances. Not albumen is easily assimilated and does not form uric acid. Nuts are rich in fat, which, like that of milk, is in a state of emulsion--that is, ready-made, prepared, or pre-digested, as it were--for circulation through the lymphatic system.
Measured in calories, most nuts rank high. One example must suffice. Measured in calories, two ounces of shelled pecans contain as much food as a pound of lean beef.
Everything that can be had from flesh foods can be gotten in better condition and more usable form from other sources, and especially from nuts. Nuts are not only cleaner than meat, they come in hermetically sealed shells that prevent contamination.
Nut proteins are of the highest order, most nut proteins being complete. Kellogg maintains that nut proteins are the best of all sources upon which the body may draw for its supplies of tissue building substances and that the proteins of nuts are superior to those of ordinary vegetables or meat. "Nuts furnish perfect proteins." Nut proteins are superior to those of cereals and are claimed to be more complete than those of eggs. Indeed, Kellogg says: "The special method of research adopted by Dr. Hoobler of the Detroit Women's Hospital and Infant's Home, provides a most delicate biological test for the nutriment value of food. The test shows the nut to be superior to meat, milk or eggs or all these foods together in producing the highest degree of nutritive efficiency. Nut protein is the best of all sources upon which the body may draw for its supplies of tissue-building material."
Carque says: "Investigations made at Yale University have proven that all nuts furnish a relatively high amount of basic amino-acids, and that the nut proteins are of high biological value, fully adequate to maintain life and growth and for the elaboration of mother's milk. Professor Cajori found in his experiments, conducted at the Sheffield laboratory, that the protein and fat of nuts were generally absorbed to a large extent."