When you hear about acorns, you probably think of squirrels before you think of roasting them and grinding them into a flour for your diet. Most people probably won't think of acorns unless it's around the holiday season when people roast various nuts. Not to mention the fact that research now indicates that they can fight some types of cancer. Who knew that acorns weren't just for squirrels?
Researchers recently revealed how acorns can fight cancer and aid in other health benefits. So once again, Mother Nature provides another amazing health benefit right under our feet.
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF ACORNS
Let's take a look at the answers to the questions you probably have about adding this nut to your diet.
HOW DO HUMANS PROCESS THE ACORN TO EAT?
As society seeks more food sources that are natural, unprocessed, gluten-free, and nutritious, the acorn is looking again. Our distant ancestors ate acorns raw, roasted, leached, and ground into a porridge, soup, coffee-like drink, and finally bread.
Leaching is a method that uses water to remove the acorns from the tannin. Tannin is a very bitter chemical in some foods that can stain teeth, has been shown to carry certain health risks, and is detrimental to our digestive system. Tannin can inhibit our body's ability to process nutrients, also called antinutrients. In fact, tannin is useful for processing leather and making it waterproof.
Leaching is essentially the process of using hot water or cold water, soaking and rinsing the acorns repeatedly to wash off the tannin from the walnut. The water will turn brown, and until it is clear, the tannins will be completely removed. Also, you can research and find additional methods to remove acorns from this chemical.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF ACORNS?
While there are different varieties of acorns depending on the type of oak they grow from, scientists were interested in discovering all the health and nutritional benefits of acorns and if any of them are depleted after leaching. Another factor under consideration was whether the leaching method made a difference and the shape of the acorn; if it had been cut, grounded, or was complete during the process.
Overall, the study showed that leach acorns, in all their forms, require attention to ensure that nutrients and health benefits are not significantly diminished.
WHAT KIND OF NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS CAN WE EXPECT FROM THIS LITTLE NUT?
It's a fantastic source of fiber, with 4 grams per 1 ounce. It contains high levels of vitamins A, E, B6 plus iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, and folic acid. Most nuts are known for their high levels of fat, usually in the form of Omega 3. Acorns have the least amount of fat in 9 grams. Fatty acids consist mainly of linoleic, palmitic, and oleic. With all that power in his punch, his courage doesn't stop there.
HOW CAN ACORNS FIGHT CANCER?
Phenols, a chemical compound, act as antioxidants. Antioxidants work against other molecules that have lost an electron and become unstable, labeled free radicals. These free radicals can create mutations in other molecules and encourage other molecules to replicate in this altered state. When free radicals become more abundant, a condition called oxidative stress occurs.
Free radicals can change lipids, proteins, and our DNA. At this point, they create disease and illness, including possible cancer. Antioxidants replace that missing electron and thus stabilize the molecules, allowing them to act as intended.
Some types of antioxidants include bioflavonoids, tocopherols, resveratrol, and oil of oregano. The antioxidant resveratrol is commonly found in walnuts, including acorns. A separate study related to the use of acorn flour showed that acorns also contain flavonoids. All antioxidants have a strong scientific link to potentially preventing cancer and strengthening the immune system.
In 2015 a study was published that also claimed that phenols help act as contributors to decrease inflammation in the body. Inflammation is proving to be a significant factor related to many diseases and illnesses. By reducing inflammation in the body, people feel better and respond better to treatments.
Despite the need for leaching, studies show that a significant amount of antioxidants remained in the acorns. In addition, it was crucial to use salt water in the leaching process to retain the highest level of phenols.
FATTY ACIDS IN THIS WALNUT
Besides phenols, acorns contain three different fatty acids; oleic acid, palmitic and linoleic oils. The number of oils differed according to the species of acorn it was. Interestingly, linoleic and oleic acids are unsaturated fats.
Fatty acids are acids that the body cannot produce and, therefore, must be supplemented with our diet. We generally refer to them as essential fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid or omega-3, and linoleic acid or omega-6 fatty acids. We tend to have a much higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3.
Studies have been conducted out of concern that this imbalance was creating heart conditions through increased omega-6 intake. However, research has yielded inconsistent results, and more studies show that omega-6s are just as beneficial for heart health.
Omega-3s are a crucial part of the membranes within the body's cells and also interact with cell receptors and their functions. They have many functions in which they play a role:
- They initiate the production of hormones to regulate blood clotting, contractions, and help arterial walls relax.
- They help reduce inflammation.
- They attach to receptors on cells that control genetic function.
Because of these abilities, benefits to humans have been shown to point to:
- Prevention of heart disease and stroke by helping the heart beat in a constant pattern without jumping or beating too fast.
- Potentially have a connection to lupus control
- Has been linked to help with eczema, rheumatoid arthritis
- Studies show they can prevent cancer and other diseases or conditions
- Higher doses have been aimed at lowering triglycerides and decreasing inflammation associated with atherosclerosis.
- Helps lower blood pressure and heart rate
You'll typically find Omega-3s in fish, vegetable oils, walnuts, walnuts, and flaxseed oil, and leafy greens.
BELLOTAS INTESTINAL HEALTH CONTRIBUTIONS
Potential cancer prevention and amazing nutrition in one small package aren't all the amazing acorns it offers us. Additional studies link acorns to gut health and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
One such study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in May 2019. Researchers showed that acorn and sago prebiotics could prevent type 2 diabetes caused by a high-fat diet through the gut-brain connection. The researchers fed acorn and sago to mice and then studied the feces for microbes and compared the results with insulin. What they discovered was that acorn and sago not only preserved the beneficial microbes, but also helped grow more bacteria and fatty acids in the short term.
It resulted in the creation of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in mice in a way superior to what was seen in mice fed insulin. The scientists also noted that the hyperpermeability and inflammation of the mucosa also decreased. The overall conclusion was that it could be beneficial in preventing or treating type 2 diabetes created from obesity.
HOW TO ADD ACORNS TO YOUR DIET
To add a nutritious, gluten-free twist to your diet, here is a recipe from Healthline for a recommended way to roast raw acorns:
- Only pick or buy fully ripe brown acorns with the hat still attached. Green acorns contain too much tannin.
- Rinse the acorns free of dirt, insects, grass, etc. Discard any with wormholes or other obvious pest damage.
- Using a nutcracker, break open the shells and remove the nut.
- Throw the acorn nut into a pot filled with water and boil for 5 minutes. The water will turn dark brown. You will see that the tannins are released and darken the water. Strain the walnuts from the water.
- Rinse and repeat until the water is clear.
You can eat the acorns after the water is clear. This is because clear water indicates that it has removed the tannins. You can then roast them in the oven at 375 ° F (190 ° C) for 15–20 minutes, adding honey or other favorite spices later to add flavor.
You can grind dried acorns into a gluten-free flour or add them to wheat flour or other gluten-free flour to add texture, flavor, and nutrients.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT EATING ACORNS FOR YOUR HEALTH
Acorns have been a part of human history for a long time. They come back to the fore as researchers reveal how they can fight cancer through their antioxidants and essential omega-3s and 6s. As an additive to gluten-free flour or regular wheat flour, it could be the dietary booster you've been looking for. Roasted alone or mixed with dried fruit, they could make a great snack too!