Wondering About Walnuts: 6 Things You Need to Know

July 01, 2015

Why you should consider adding walnuts to your diet.

Walnuts, part of the tree nut family including Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios, are incredibly unique, nutritious and delicious. Here are the six things you need to know about walnuts today.

Walnuts are rich in the essential omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 rich foods are powerful inflammation fighters. Omega-3 fatty acids alleviate inflammation and can even block inflammatory pathways. According to Dr. Weil, omega-3’s also suppress 40 to 55 percent of the release of cytokines, immune system molecules known to destroy joints and cause inflammation. Eat walnuts to protect your joints!

A study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, found that eating just a handful of walnuts a day can lead to a longer life. In fact, just few walnuts a day can cut the risk of dying from cancer by 40 percent and from cardiovascular disease by at least 55 percent - coupled with other healthy lifestyle choices of course!

In addition to combatting inflammation and being a longevity boosting fat, omega 3s are also known to benefit heart health as well as cognitive function; asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis. Walnuts also contain ellagic acid, which supports the immune system and may fight cancer. 

Walnuts are high in l-arginine, an essential amino acid known for its role in vascular health. They are also very high in antioxidants, including 16 antioxidant phenols mostly found in the skin, as well as vitamin E great for heart health and melatonin to aid sleep. Walnuts are also a very good source of biotin which benefits hair, nails and skin as well as blood sugar. An ounce of walnuts (about 12-14 halves) provides a convenient source of protein, about 4 grams and about 2 grams of fiber.

How to shop: 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. Smarter shopping means comparing prices in various sections around the market as walnuts can be found in baking, bulk and more.

Storage tips: 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.