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Health, Seven Days, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica

Go Nutty Over Health This January: Dr. Mao's Wellness Living

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Jan. 28, 2013, 9:10 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

Most people give up their New Year’s resolutions before January even ends! However, before you give up this year, try to find a few new foods that might keep your health kick on track and maybe even expand your recipe collection. Below are some nuts that can be eaten as a snack or added to a meal as a way for you to stay healthy and increase your longevity for years to come.


A nutritionally very balanced food, pecans have a high iron content, making them especially beneficial for women. Pecans are full of phytosterols (plant compounds that decrease bad cholesterol in the body) and they provide 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber, which also benefits cholesterol levels and aids in digestion. Additionally, pecans may help control high blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, and defend against neurological disease. They can be a part of weight management programs, but don’t eat more than a handful a day, as they are high in calories.

Pine nuts

Pine nuts are not actually nuts at all, but the edible seeds of pinecones. They are very beneficial for heart health because, like nuts, they are high in monounsaturated fats. In addition, the potent antioxidant called pycnogenol protects the vascular endothelial cells) which make up the lining of the heart and blood vessels) from free radical damage. Pycnogenol also helps protect the brain from free radicals, works as an anti-inflammatory, and helps preserve skin structure. Pine nuts can go rancid quickly, but you can extend their life by keeping them in the refrigerator.


Unlike other nuts and seeds, chestnuts are fairly low in calories and fat, but still contain a wide array of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Very high in fiber, chestnuts can help lower cholesterol levels. Chestnuts’ rich source of vitamin C protects against free radical damage and bolsters immunity. Of all the nuts, chestnuts contain one of the highest levels of folate. As a nut, it also contains high levels of essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, which benefit heart health. Provided you aren’t allergic, these crunchy treats will serve you and your longevity well.

Sautéed King Prawns with Chestnuts and Figs

Bonus Benefits: Heart, Metabolism, Digestion, and Sexual Health

20 dried, peeled chestnuts, 
soaked in hot water for 1 hour

12 ounces king prawns, shelled and deveined

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

3 fresh black figs (or dried figs soaked in warm water to reconstitute)

1/3 cup port

3 tablespoons rice bran oil

1 cup snow peas

1 scallion, sliced into long, thin pieces

4 slices fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole star anise

1) Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and cook the chestnuts until slightly soft (about 30 minutes), drain and let stand until cool.

2) Rub the shrimp with salt and white pepper. Quarter the figs lengthwise, put them into a small bowl, and pour the port over them. Let stand for 10 minutes; drain and reserve the port. 3) Reheat a wok over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes; then add the vegetable oil and heat until rippling. Carefully add the shrimps and stir-fry briefly; remove them from the wok as soon as the color changes and transfer them to a plate.

4) Add the snow peas, drained figs, scallion, and ginger to the wok and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the shrimp.

5) Add the chestnuts, reserved port, soy sauce, cinnamon stick, and star anise to the wok and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Return the cooked shrimp and vegetables to the wok and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise, transfer to a large shallow bowl, and serve immediately.


May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post.  Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey.  To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit

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