One of the oldest tree fruit known to humankind, dating back to as far as 7000 B.C., walnuts are packed with nutrients and feature health-promoting properties.
Native to the eastward region of the Balkans and stretching towards the Himalayas and South West China, walnuts belong to the genus Juglans, the walnut is the seed of a drupe. Naturally not occurring as a true botanical nut, the walnut is most commonly used as processed food, in the form of pickled walnuts or for its nutmeat.
Consumed as a snack or part of desserts or other dishes, walnuts are famous for their antioxidant properties. The ancient Romans knew walnuts as “Jupiter’s Royal Acorn,” while the Greeks called it “karyon” translated as head since the nut resembles a human skull and the kernel looks like a brain.
Walnuts are harvested once a year, between September and November.
Walnut trees take around five years before they are considered fully productive, after which the tree lasts for 150 to 250 years and produce fruit annually. A walnut tee produces, an average of 3,500 pounds of walnuts per acre. While it takes around 170 days for a single walnut to grow and mature properly on the tree.
Walnuts were traded along the Silk Route between Asia and the Middle East, which helped, spread the nut all throughout the world. Thus, raising the nuts popularity. Early records of walnuts indicate that English walnuts were brought from ancient Persia and were reserved only for royalty. These nuts were also known as Persian walnuts.
Various researches have been conducted on walnuts and their different health benefits for the human body have been studied for years. Considered to be brain food due to its appearance, the walnut is regarded as a symbol of intelligence and is considered to increase one’s intellect.
As the nut is packed with nutritional goodness, there are studies that show a rich and nutritious diet can help control various diseases or altogether prevent them.
There are more than 200 varieties of walnuts.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
- Walnuts are the most nutritious of all the nuts with only 654 calories per 3.5 ounces/100 grams.
- Walnuts are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, manganese, copper, and biotin
- Walnuts are rich in molybdenum, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, ellagitannins, catechin, and melatonin.
- According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, walnuts can help lower overall cholesterol, lower LDL or the bad kind of cholesterol levels, and lower triglyceride levels.
- Walnuts are beneficial for optimal bone, brain and heart health
99% of the walnuts in the United States are grown in California’s Central Valley.
- Walnuts can help speed up wound healing, reduce inflammation, and cure bad breath.
- Other nutrients found in walnuts include calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium and zinc.
- Walnuts can reduce inflammation and even help regulate sleep.
- Walnuts are known to be an instant mood booster and have strong astringent properties.
- The nut is even known to boost immunity, help with healthier hair and skin and improve overall body health.
- The skin of the walnuts contains the maximum number of nutrients, which also contains cancer-causing free-radicals.
- Walnuts can help with inflammation and improve the immunity of the body.
Besides being healthy and significantly beneficial for the human body, walnuts can also help with various diseases. The rich antioxidant powers of the nut have extraordinary free-radical fighting powers, which can help prevent damage caused to your liver due to any disease or issue.
The nut can improve the metabolic activities of the body such as growth and development, digestion and the breakdown of nucleic acids.
The high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in walnuts can help people suffering from diabetes. A study suggests the use of walnuts in the diet of diabetic patients can help achieve optimal fat and energy balance levels. A clinical trial[AN1] suggests a neutral effect on glucose and insulin levels. However, a notable difference in lipid (such as cholesterol or triglyceride) profile of the participants was noted.
China is the world’s largest producer of walnuts, producing half of the global walnut supply.
A study conducted by the University of Scranton Chemistry Professor Dr. Joe Vinson analyzed the nine different kinds of nuts, in which walnuts topped the list of containing the highest number of antioxidant properties. Eating a handful of walnuts or seven whole walnuts can help you gain most of the health benefits of the nut.
The nutrients in walnuts especially vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, are helpful in fighting eye conditions and diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Since walnuts contain more antioxidants than any other nut known to humankind; they are more beneficial for eye health. Inflammation is known to play a role in the development of AMD, and omega-3 is known to combat the effects of AMD.
Walnuts can help prevent common vision problems such as cataracts and dry eyes. Increasing the consumption of walnuts can help keep your body healthy and active. As the nuts are a good source of powerful nutrients, incorporating them into your diet can prove to have long-lasting benefits for the body. These benefits can be increased with a diet rich with walnuts, in the form of salads, snacks, or even delicious brownies.
How to Make the Most of your Walnut Intake
Here are a few ways in which you can maximize the nutritional benefits you receive from the nut:
- Eat your walnuts as snacks, or enjoy them with oatmeal, salads, yogurts, and cereals.
- Walnuts are versatile. Use them in your pilaf or quinoa salad or make a dessert with walnuts.
- Try walnuts with a Mediterranean diet to for an amazing vegan lunch.
- Even if you crave something sweet, walnuts are the best way to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. Try Walnut Biscotti or look up other great walnut recipes.
- Add chopped walnuts to your dinner or lunch
- Make homemade walnut granola
- Roast the nuts or ground them for a healthy snack option with other snack items.
WARNING: Even though walnuts are packed with nutritional goodness, it is best to eat them in moderate amounts. Walnuts may cause allergic reactions, digestive issues, and an increase in weight. Consult your doctor or dietitian for an appropriate dosage.
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