Walnuts are a delicious and perfect addition to both savory and sweet recipes. What's more, they're a nutritional powerhouse, especially for vegetarians. Walnuts are high in antioxidants, protein, vitamins (folate and vitamin B6), minerals (manganese, copper, phosphorous, and magnesium), and fiber. Best of all, they're high in Omega-3 ALA fatty acids.
While all nuts are little packages bursting with nutrition, walnuts have an added advantage for vegetarian diets; they're high in Omega-3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Why is this important? Your body can convert ALA to Omega-3 DHA and EPA. Both DHA and EPA are important for your health, but you can only get them from fish.
Only a small amount of ALA gets converted, so it's important to eat foods high in ALA, like walnuts.
The American Heart Association certified that California Walnuts are a heart-healthy food, and in 2004, the FDA endorsed the health benefits of walnuts with the following allowable claim:
"Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 oz of walnuts (approx. 10 whole walnuts) per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."
Walnuts are one of the best vegetarian protein sources and contain the essential amino acid Arginine. Arginine gets converted into nitric oxide (NO), a chemical that your body naturally produces less of as you age. NO is important because it allows blood vessels to relax, and helps control blood circulation to important organs, including the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys.
Approximately 14 walnut halves, or one ounce, gives you 4.3 grams of protein.
Walnuts are high in fiber. One ounce (28 grams or approximately 14 halves) has 2 grams of fiber.
Fiber is important. More fiber in your diet will help detoxify the colon, provide better bowel regularity, and eliminate toxins from your body.
To roast them in their shells, place the walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes at a temperature of no higher than 170F. A higher temperature will break down the fats and produce free radicals. These free radicals oxidize the fats in your bloodsteam and can cause plaque buildup and cardiovascular disease.
Shelled walnuts can turn rancid and lose their nutrition quickly because of their high oil content. Your best bet is to buy them in their shells. When you do, you can store them for up to a year.
If you buy shelled walnuts, refrigerate them in an airtight container, or, even better, freeze them. They can then last for up to a year.
Artemis P. Simopoulos, Leslie G. Cleland, Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Ratio: The Scientific Evidence
David Katz, M.D., "The Case for Walnuts," Huffingtonpost.com
Gloria Tsang, RD, "Health Benefits of Walnuts," HealthCastle.com
"Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health," MayoClinic.com
"7 Walnuts a day deliver health benefits," World News & U.S News
Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, Lara Pizzorno, The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods
"Dietary fats: Know which types to choose," MayoClinic.com
Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods; Asian traditions and modern nutrition.
The World's Healthiest Foods
Self Nutrition Data.com, Nutrition Facts
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