The “Keto Diet.” At this point the odds are that you or someone you know has tried keto, is on keto, or has contemplated introducing it into the veritable retinue of lifestyle diets making the rounds.
At its core, the sole reason for the existence of the keto diet can be traced back to Dr. Russell Wilder, who in 1921 came up with a modified way of eating to reduce epilepsy symptoms in his patients. By decreasing carbohydrates in the diet to almost zero through diet and fasting, the body is forced to enter a ketogenic state, or ketosis. During ketosis the liver turns dietary fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which supply the brain and body with energy in the absence of carbohydrate created glucose.
One significant side effect of this diet is the typical reduction in the accumulation of adipose fat and retained water experienced on a standard “American Diet.” Dr. Robert Atkins co-opted the ideals of the keto diet in the 1970’s and introduced a new lifestyle diet (The Atkins Diet), which has since evolved into many sub-categories such as keto, intermittent fasting, paleo, modified keto, and carnivore dieting.
Though not necessarily a quick fix, the keto diet does seem to offer a variety of benefits to the people willing to eschew the readily accessible carbohydrate laden foods that inundate our world. If you consider that you are only 5-10 ancestors removed from a time when hunting, basic farming, and scavenging provided the only food sources it is no wonder that a diet mimicking those conditions seems to work so well. By reducing inflammation and the excess creation of glucose in the body you immediately begin counteracting two of the biggest health concerns in modern times: diabetes and heart disease.
While essentially all carbohydrates are taboo on the ketogenic diet, it does leave the door open for many tree nuts and seeds. With fat being the primary source of energy for the body, coconut provides a high density of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), a type of fat more easily broken down and utilized for energy by our bodies. Coconut and coconut oil have the added benefit of providing lauric acid which forms monolaurin post digestion. Monolaurin is one of the many natural substances that has the ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungus on contact.
With the predominant macronutrient fueling ketosis being fat, macadamia nuts represent a significantly more concentrated source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats than other tree nuts, such as almonds. Macadamia nuts supply a whopping 21g of fat per ounce where almonds contain 14g in the same size serving. The high monounsaturated fat content also means that macadamias provide a disproportionately high amount of oleic and palmitoleic acid, two fatty acids known for their heart health and brain health roles in the body.
The yellowish-orange flesh of the pumpkin and the delicious sugar, cinnamon, and cream filled pies that make Thanksgiving complete are unfortunately the antithesis of the keto diet. However, hidden inside of these cultivars of the squash plant are seeds with significant quantities of potassium and magnesium. Pumpkin seeds (also known as “Pepitas”) provide these extremely important minerals responsible for smooth muscle contraction, bone density, protein synthesis, heartbeat regulation and are two of the three most significant mineral deficiencies that occur on a ketogenic diet.
A little-known study published in 2013 showed that a single 20-50 gram serving of Brazil nuts increased HDL (good) cholesterol while simultaneously decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol within 9 hours of consumption. In addition to this impressive ability of the Brazil nut to impact serum cholesterols, it also contains the highest amount of selenium currently measured in any food per gram. Selenium directly affects thyroid function, testosterone production, the immune system, and potentially reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s and mental decline in the elderly.
In closing, Red River Foods has a diverse staff from a variety of different backgrounds maintaining our position at the forefront of the tree nut, seed, dried fruit, and snack item markets. While many of the items that we work with have existed on our planet for many years, the science behind their benefits continues to be explored and gather validation. We see our role not only as an importer and supplier of these precious commodities, but as a champion of their benefits and roles in various lifestyle diets such as the ketogenic diet.
We are looking forward to the coming years with eager anticipation as the focus of our global exploration and investigative partnerships seeking new and novel food items come to fruition. Red River hopes to introduce entirely new species of exotic nuts, seeds, and fruits with the potential to better our health, drive the economies and communities of our source origins, and bring attention to the devastation of their ecosystems at the hands of industrial progress. Please stay tuned there are great things on the horizon.