Wonder Nuts: Walnuts
Walnuts are part of the tree nut family whose other members are Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts), macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios. These wonder nuts are parceled such by nature, that they are loaded with many essential nutrients, fiber, fats, and proteins.
Owing to their excellent nutrient composition, these tree nuts provide you with plethora of health benefits. Dietitians, nutritionists, and the USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) recommend that nuts should be included as part of the daily diet to derive health benefits.
"Supportive, but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease." U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The nuts are rich source of energy and contain health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. A handful of walnuts contain almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don't eat a lot of them.
Go through the health benefits these wonder nuts provide and make them a part of your healthy diet.
Walnuts for a Healthy Heart
Walnuts are a rich source of “heart-healthy” monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that they are helpful to keep your heart healthy and also keep the cholesterol levels in check. These are also helpful in the prevention of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to protect from certain chronic diseases of aging, including cardiovascular, neurological, and anti carcinogenic ailments due to their ability to control free radicals. Walnuts contain high levels of antioxidants. In a 2006 study, 1113 different foods were tested and walnuts ranked second only to blackberries in terms of antioxidant content (see graph below).
Good for Skin
Walnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, which protects the skin from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Given the wide variety antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients found in walnuts, it's not surprising to see research on this tree nut showing measurable anti-cancer benefits. Some studies show that these nuts can provide protection against certain types of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer.
A recommended daily serving of walnuts is one ounce, which equals to about one quarter cup or 12-14 walnut halves.
How to Eat Them
Walnuts are a delicious way to add extra nutrition, delicious flavor, and crunch to a meal. Like most nuts, they can easily be added to your diet quite effortlessly.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Just chop and add to your favorite salad, vegetable dish, fruit, or dessert.
- You can also mix crushed walnuts into plain yogurt and top with maple syrup.
- Add walnuts to your favorite cookies, pies, and cakes.
- Add them up to your bowl of whole grain cereal, and have it as a healthy breakfast every morning.
- Roast them, or fry using a small amount of healthy cooking oil and enjoy them as a delicious snack.
Tips for Eating Walnuts
As is the case with fruits and vegetables, even walnuts deliver the best health benefits when consumed with their skin. Some people might not even notice that there is a walnut skin. The skin is the outermost flaky part of the walnut which can be seen easily when the nut is out of its shell. The skin contains about 90 percent of the phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids, which provide important benefits for health.
How to Select and Store
- Walnuts are easily available in grocery stores and supermarkets all year around. Many varieties and different forms of these nuts are there in the market; unshelled (without the shell), shelled, salted, sweetened, or ground, etc. Buy whole “unshelled” nuts instead of processed ones.
- While buying, choose walnuts that are bright brown in color, compact, uniform in size and feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks, mold, and spots and rancid smell.
- Unshelled walnuts can be placed in cool dry place for many months, whereas shelled (without the outer shell) kernels should be placed inside airtight container and kept in the refrigerator to avoid them turn rancid.
Now, that you are updated with the benefits of these wonder nuts, what are you waiting for? Go nuts for walnuts!