During Tet, Vietnam’s Lunar New Year Festival, you will see watermelon and sunflower seeds and cashew nuts in just about every home you visit.
These seeds and nuts are not only delicious, but they are also good for your health, according to herbalist Dinh Cong Bay.
1. Melon seeds
Watermelon seeds. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach
Between 20 and 40 percent of a watermelon seed is oil. In Asian gastronomy, raw watermelon seeds are "yin" heavy, as they slow metabolism and cool the body.
When roasted, they become neutral -- neither cool nor hot. Watermelon seeds also lower blood pressure and strengthen vitality.
2. Cashew nuts
Cashew nuts are sweet and are "yang" heavy, or hot, as they boost your metabolism.
Roasted cashew nuts are good for people with sore throat or depression. Cashew nuts are rich in fatty oils, but also contain water, calcium, iron and vitamin A, B1 and C.
However, cashew nuts have been known to be a dangerous allergen.
A recent study among children in the UK found cashew nuts caused allergic reactions more serious than those caused by peanuts. According to Dr. Andrew Clark from Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, cashew nuts can cause shortness of breath and heart palpitations, and may lower blood pressure.
Cashew nuts. Photo: Shutterstock
3. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. Like cashew nuts, half of sunflower seeds are fatty oils, and they are also rich in calcium, iron, carotene, niacin and vitamins B1 and B2.
Linolenic acid in sunflower seeds helps fight blood clots.
Yang-heavy sunflower seeds can help cure dysentery, loss of appetite and exhaustion.
To treat symptoms accompanying dysentery, soak 30 grams of peeled sunflower seeds in hot water for one hour, and add rock sugar to taste. Sunflower oil is also a very popular nutritious cooking oil.
4. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkins are planted and harvested all year round. However, seeds taken from pumpkins harvested in autumn and winter are the most nutritious.
Though pumpkin seeds have significantly lower levels of oils than sunflower seeds, they really pack a nutritious punch.
In addition to the nutrients found in sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds also have magnesium, zinc, copper, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and Vitamin E, among others. In Asian gastronomy, pumpkin seeds help cool the body, relieve stress, and can even improve your sex life.
Pumpkin seeds. Photo: Thai Nguyen
Pumpkin seeds can also help relieve symptoms related to urinary problems, prevent osteomalacia by increasing bone density, and slow down cholesterol build-up along artery walls. To aid in the treatment of post-natal swelling and diabetes, dry 120 gram of pumpkin seeds in a pan until they become brown. Add water and boil for 15 minutes. Drink daily until the swelling is gone.
Roast peanuts are among the most favorite Tet snaks as the oily seeds are not only nutritious snack but they are an ingredient in many Vietnamese salads.
Peanuts contain proteins, fatty oil, amino acids, alkaloids, calcium, phosphorus, iron. Its lysine and catechin help prevent premature senility while glutamic acid and aspartic promote the growth of brain cells and enhance memory.
Vitamin E, lecithin and cephalin in peanut oil can help reduce cholesterol in blood, prevent arteriosclerosis and coronary thrombosis as well as skin aging.