Walnuts 101

February 04, 2013

Shopping for walnuts can get confusing, they are found in the bulk section as well as baking and even sometimes in produce. Find out how to shop for walnuts here.

What are walnuts?
Walnuts are the edible seed of the Juglans tree varietals: English (Persian) walnut, Juglans regia; Black, Juglans nigra; White (butternut), Juglans cinerea.
How to buy:
When shopping, look for unblemished, clean-looking rippled and large, creamy colored walnuts. To buy shelled walnuts, choose whole for eating and decoration, and broken nuts for garnishing or baking. Walnuts should not be withered or soft. Bags should have little or no “dust” which occurs with handling. The English walnut is most popular type in US, with easy-to-crack shells. Blacks are more pungent, Whites are mildest and rare.
How to use:
The shelled whole walnut consists of two bumpy kernels partially attached to each other, usually separated and sold as “halves”. Broken walnuts are typically sold for baking. Eat shelled nuts plain, roasted, or caramelized. Add to pasta, cereal, cooked vegetables, fruit or green salads, or use broken or whole in baked goods. Can be pureed into a walnut butter.
How to store:
To avoid rancidity, refrigerate or freeze shelled walnuts in an airtight container; store nuts in shells in a cool dark cupboard up to six months, or refrigerate. 

Health benefits:
One quarter cup provides 90 percent of the RDA for omega 3s known to benefit heart health as well as cognitive function; anti-inflammatory benefits asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, psoriasis. Walnuts also contain ellagic acid which supports the immune system, and may fight cancer.  Fifteen percent of the fat is monounsaturated. High in l-arginine, an essential amino acid; very high in antioxidants, including 16 antioxidant phenols, vitamin E, gallic acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) for artery function and bone health, as well as melatonin to aid sleep. Very good source of manganese and copper. Just 4 walnuts a day can be beneficial.
Smarter shopping:
Compare prices in various sections around the market as walnuts can be found in baking, bulk and more. 

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