Apart from being so good for you, walnuts are a delicious way to add nutrition, flavor and crunchiness to your everyday food. Walnuts are ranked in the top ten list of the most powerful disease fighting foods.
Health benefits from including walnuts in your diet on a regular basis
• Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids which is a special type of protective fat the body cannot manufacture itself.
• Walnuts have a gentle laxative effect on the body, lubricating the large intestine.
• Walnuts are a dense source of vitamins (including vitamin E) and minerals as well as being high in protein, making them a great healthy snack.
• The Vitamin E in walnuts promotes mental well being and eases arthritic pain.
• Walnuts are an excellent addition for those who follow a vegetarian diet.
• The walnut’s concentration of omega-3 helps provide cardiovascular protection by preventing erratic heart rhythms, making blood less likely to clot inside arteries and promoting better cognitive function.
• Its anti-inflammatory benefits help asthma, rheumatoid arthritis
as well as inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema
• Walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties.
• The monounsaturated fats in walnuts are good for those cholesterol levels by improving the ratio of good HDL cholesterol to the bad LDL cholesterol. So they not only help to reduce bad cholesterol but actually work to raise good cholesterol while reducing inflammation and decreasing blood pressure.
• Walnuts contain relatively high levels of l-arginine, an essential amino acid, which is very important for hypertension.
• Walnuts also serve as a great addition to the diets of those with diabetes and heart problems.
• Walnuts, pecans and chestnuts have the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts.
• Walnuts help prevent and control high blood pressure.
• Walnuts are perfect for replacing those foods that are high in saturated fats such as cheese and meat.
Is the pollen the cause of allergies?
Many people and some animals can be allergic to the pollen of the walnut tree when it blooms (usually in May). Walnuts are harvested in December but are available all year round. The United States leads the world in the production of walnuts. Other major walnut-growing countries include China, Greece and Turkey. The US walnut industry is centered in the area around Stockton, California. In addition, several hardy varieties of English walnut trees are grown in the Midwest and the East. But growers usually do not plant large orchards of these varieties. English walnut trees do not grow well in the South.
Dangers to be aware of
Shelled, bagged nuts are commercially available but are often treated with ethylene gas, fumigated with methylbromide, dipped in hot lye or a solution of glycerine and sodium carbonate to loosen their skins and then rinsed in citric acid. Does not sound too healthy, does it? You might want to go for walnuts left in their skins and crack them yourself with a good old fashioned pair of nutcrackers!
Because of their high oil content, walnuts can turn rancid if not stored properly. For long term storage, it is best to buy unshelled nuts and store them in the fridge for 2 to 3 months or freeze up to a year. Shelled walnuts should be kept refrigerated in an airtight container and may even be frozen for up to a year.
To lower your risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease as well as all the other benefits, enjoy a handful of walnuts, or other antioxidant-rich nuts, at least 4 times a week.