Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Walnuts are the round, single-seeded stone fruits of the walnut tree. Their trees have been cultivated for thousands of years and are one of the oldest tree foods grown by man. Today there are several varieties of walnuts available, but the most widely consumed ones are English or Persian walnuts (Juglans regia), black walnuts (Juglans nigra), and white or butternut walnuts (Juglans cinerea). All walnuts have their own unique nutritional values, but all of them are healthy in general.
Walnuts are famous as a “brain food” partly because they look like brains, and largely because of their selenium, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). All three of these nutrients ensure optimal brain function.
As a whole, walnuts are an exceptional source of vitamins, minerals, and bioactive plant compounds, most notably:
Walnuts are loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats that can limit the risk factors for heart diseases. Consuming walnuts on a regular basis has been shown to lessen inflammation and clotting, as well as the levels of triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol.
Aside from mitigating the likelihood of stroke and heart attack, walnuts are useful against other health conditions like:
Walnuts are full of minerals that are crucial to bone health and impede the onset of osteoporosis. Manganese encourage calcium absorption, copper maintains collagen and elastin, and manganese supports the other two minerals. The essential fatty acids provide further assistance by increasing calcium deposition and absorption, while minimizing calcium excretion through urination.
Walnuts have melatonin, a hormone that regulates and induces sleep, in a bioavailable form. This means that eating walnuts before going to bed can lead to restful sleep.
Walnuts are one considered to be one of the major food allergens in the United States, and should therefore be completely avoided by nut allergy sufferers. Walnuts may cause anaphylaxis or allergic shock and can be fatal if not treated.
Walnuts provide manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium. These minerals contribute to metabolic activities like digestion, sperm generation, and nucleic acid synthesis. This means that walnuts can enhance the function of many of the body’s systems and organs, especially:
Walnuts can be bought raw or roasted, and salted or unsalted, and can be eaten as is.
The earthy, fruity taste of walnuts has made them a popular ingredient for baked goods and desserts. Cookies, pies, tarts, and breads can be made healthier and more delicious with a generous addition of these fatty nuts. Additionally, walnuts pair nicely with other nuts that go in salads and homemade granola mixes.
Note: walnuts are prone to spoiling due to their high fat content. Rancid walnuts are not unsafe, however they do have a sharp flavor that some people may find unpalatable. To prevent walnuts from spoiling, keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place; doing this allow them to keep for a few months. Putting them in the freezer will let them keep for up to two years.
Walnuts promote bone health.
Eating walnuts before bed can lead to better sleep.
Walnuts should not be eaten by those with a nut allergy.
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants.
Walnuts are good for the brain.
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