Crack Open the Health Benefits of Walnuts!
Walnuts are rich in healthy poly-unsaturated fat, antioxidants and essential minerals. The key to enjoying this nutrient-rich nut is portion size. A portion of walnuts is 1 ounce, or about 14 walnut halves, and contains 190 calories.
Walnuts come from an ornamental tree that can grow up to 130 feet high. There are three main types of walnuts; the English walnut, also known as the Persian walnut, the Black walnut, and the White or butternut walnut. The most popular type in the US is the English walnut, which has a thinner shell and is the easiest to crack open. The Black walnut has a thicker shell and more pungent flavor. It is mostly cultivated for its strong wood. The white walnut is sweeter and oilier than the other two, but it is not commonly found in stores.
Due to their high fat content, walnuts are extremely perishable. Shelled walnuts should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or the freezer for up to 1 year. Unshelled walnuts should be stored in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. When walnuts become rancid, they will smell like paint thinner.
*Unique among nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Just 1 ounce of walnuts contains 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is close to 100% of the recommended daily value. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, and reduce triglyceride levels. In addition, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body which can reduce the symptoms of chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.
*In addition, they are an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals. A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. Antioxidants are molecules capable of slowing or preventing oxidation, a process that can damage cells in the body. Studies have shown that polyphenols reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A handful of walnuts contain more polyphenols than a glass of red wine.
*These nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.
*An ounce of walnuts provides 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Fiber helps regulate movement through the gastro-intestinal tract and helps you feel fuller longer which can prevent over-eating. In addition, it has been shown to decrease LDL and blood pressure as well as help diabetics maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Walnuts are also rich in the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
*Walnuts also contain relatively high levels of L-arginine, an essential amino acid that must be obtained through diet and cannot be synthesized by the human body. L-arginine is converted to nitric oxide in the body, which helps relax blood vessels. Studies show that L-arginine helps lower blood pressure, by maintaining the body’s nitric oxide levels.
Did you know?
Two thirds of the world’s walnuts come from California’s central and coastal valley.
Tips for adding walnuts to your diet
· Add chopped walnuts to yogurt and berries for a healthy parfait
· Add chopped walnuts to your salad, sandwich, ice cream, or cereal
· Use ground walnuts to thicken chili or stews
· Use ground walnuts instead of pine nuts in pesto sauce
· Spread ground walnut butter on your toast
· Coat chicken or fish with chopped walnuts and fresh herbs before cooking
· Try using Walnut Oil! Walnut oil has a slightly nutty flavor and is delicious mixed with vinegar as a salad dressing. It can also be used for low and moderate cooking, but not high heat.
Green Beans with Walnuts & Walnut Oil
2 lbs Green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Walnut oil
1 cup Chopped walnuts, toasted (optional: see recipe below)
2 tablespoons Minced fresh parsley
Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Rinse beans with cold water and drain well. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Melt butter with oil in heavy, large skillet over high heat. Add beans and toss until heated through, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add walnuts and parsley and toss. Transfer to bowl and serve.
Calories: 192 ; Total Fat: 16 g ; Saturated Fat: 3 g ; Polyunsaturated Fat: 8 g ; Carbohydrates: 11 g ; Protein: 6 g ; Vitamin A: 1120 IU ; Vitamin C: 12 mg ; Calcium: 63 mg ; Sodium: 36 mg ; Iron: 2 mg ; Fiber: 4 g
Dash of oil (optional)
3 ways to toast walnuts:
1.) Bake walnuts on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently.
2.) Microwave walnuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate on medium-high for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
3.) Cook walnuts in a skillet at medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Regardless of method, walnuts can be toasted dry or with a dash of oil.
*Recipes taken from www.mealsmatter.org