Walnuts not only taste good but provide you with tremendous amount of energy and other health benefits. The Greeks used to call it, “the nut of Jupiter,” and considered them suitable for their gods. Since ancient times walnuts are associated with intellectuality, and the fruit itself resembles with the shape of the human brain.
All dry fruits are beneficial for health but walnuts contain twice the amount of antioxidants compared to the other nuts.
Though most of the walnuts are now grown in California with trees stretching over an area of 122,000 acres, this dry fruit originated from Persia. It takes 15 years for the tree to grow until it starts producing fruit. On average walnut tree gives fruit for 45 years. Walnuts belong to the tree nut family, almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pecan and Brazil nuts also belong to this family. There are almost 30 varieties of walnuts out of which three most commonly known are Persian or English walnut, Black walnut and butternut walnut.
Walnut is blessed with powerful nutrients such as iron, manganese, copper, potassium, vitamin B, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, vitamin B-6, vitamin E, folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Here are some health benefits these nutrients can give:
Excellent for Heart Health
The FDA, Food and Drug Administration has recently declared that 1.5 ounce of walnuts per day may help reduce the risk of heart attack. Walnuts contain plentiful amounts of ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, which is very beneficial for sustaining heart health. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating walnuts can help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Prevents Breast Cancer
28 walnut halves or 14 whole walnuts can provide enough phytosterols and antioxidants that can help you combat breast cancer. This study has been conducted at the Marshall University School of Medicine, West Virginia.
The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in walnuts are beneficial for maintaining insulin levels. A research conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health, proved that 30% women who ate 30 g of walnuts 5 times a week were at a lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Best source of Antioxidants
You can find plenty of phyto-chemicals in walnuts such as ellagic acid, melatonin, vitamin E, poly-phenolic compounds and carotenoids, all these components serve as antioxidants. These compounds can help your body combat against aging, cancer, neurological diseases and inflammation.
Boosts Brain functioning
The high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts makes them excellent food for your brain. Almost 2/3rd Americans are omega-3 fatty acid deficient. Lack of omega-3 fats can deprive the brain of high level functioning. A study conducted by Purdue University revealed that children who had a low intake of omega-3 fatty acids had behavioral problems and learning disorders.
Help reduce stress
Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for reducing depression, ADHA and Alzheimer’s disease. Walnuts and walnut oil both contribute to lower the stress levels and also the decreases blood pressure resulting from stress. This has been published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Good for Insomnia patients
People who cannot get good sleep should avoid taking help of sleeping pills, as most of them have side effects. Here is something to try, take 5 walnuts after dinner as it can give you a peaceful sleep.
Benefits for skin
The walnut’s oil protects the skin from dryness and returns its natural moisture. It is also used as base oil in many cosmetics and massage oils used for aromatherapy and massage therapy. The vitamin E found in walnuts is also very beneficial for the skin.
Acts as an Anti-inflammatory
The omega-3 fatty acids also act as an anti-inflammatory which results in lower risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, blood pressure and colon, prostrate and breast cancer. 25 grams of these nuts provide you with 90% of omega-3 fatty acid essential for your daily requirement.
How to use and store walnuts?
If you are planning to lose weight then you should consume large quantities of walnuts as they are high in calories. 1/4th cup (25g) of walnuts give you 163 calories. You can incorporate them into your daily meals but do not use them for snacking.
The oil contained by walnuts has the tendency to absorb other strong odors, so it is suggested to store them in a cool dry place in an airtight jar. If you do not store them properly they will become rancid. You can either refrigerate unshelled walnuts for 2 to 3 months or keep them in a freezer for 1 year.