Nuts over Walnuts!
by Carolyn Burris
Walnuts are a delicious way to boost a meal’s nutrition, flavor, and crunch. While walnuts are harvested in December, they are available throughout the year and are a great addition to your diet.
Walnuts, are nutrient dense, packed with healthy fats associated with heart health, and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke. In addition, walnuts can lower your risk of cancer and provide anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce risk for asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes. Other health benefits of walnuts include weight loss support and prevention of obesity. Also, preliminary studies have shown potential improvement in the area of memory as well as general cognitive benefits.
This remarkable nut is also rich in antioxidants due to its high levels of phytonutrients. Providing protection against metabolic syndrome, some phytonutrients found in walnuts, for example the quinone juglone, are found in practically no other commonly-eaten foods. Other phytonutrients such as tannin tellimagrandin or the flavonol morin are also rare and exceptional as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. These phytonutrients also help explain the reduced risk of certain cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer when consuming walnuts.
Most U.S. adults have yet to realize the health benefits of walnuts. A recent study determined that only 5.5% of all adults ages 19-50 consume tree nuts of any variety! To gain the health benefits of walnuts, you should include 1.25 ounces of tree nuts per day, on average, in your diet. With that in mind, researchers discovered some very interesting findings. On a daily average, tree nut eaters take in 5 grams more fiber, 260 milligrams more potassium, 73 more milligrams of calcium, 95 more milligrams of magnesium, 3.7 milligrams more vitamin E and 157 milligrams less sodium than non-tree nut eaters.
Walnuts not only taste delicious, but are also a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Walnuts are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as a beneficial source of vegetable protein. Walnuts also have good amounts of copper, iron, potassium and magnesium. They have no cholesterol because they are plant-based and provide 3% of the recommended daily amounts (RDA) for calcium.
A one-ounce serving, about ¼ cup shelled walnut halves, provides:
- 180 calories (approximately)
- 18 grams of fat (16 grams healthy unsaturated fat)
- 2 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 4 grams of protein
Here are some great ways to incorporate walnuts into your diet:
- Add walnuts to salads or sautéed vegetables.
- Add walnuts to fruit salads.
- Mix chopped walnuts into plain kefir or yogurt sweetened with honey or maple syrup.
- Add walnuts to your favorite stuffing recipe.
- Mix walnuts with other nuts, seeds, and dried fruit to make a healthy trail mix for snacks.
- Add to wholegrain bread, scones, or muffin recipes.
The following is a recipe for homemade walnut granola, rich in fiber and omega 3. Enjoy!
Homemade Walnut Granola
- 6 – 8 cups of rolled oats
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup of honey
- 3 tablespoons of maple syrup or blackstrap molasses
- ½ to 1 cup walnuts
- ½ to 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins, dates, or other dried fruits
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla
- A dash of unprocessed salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of canola, high oleic safflower or sunflower oil
- 2 – 4 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds
- Place the rolled oats in a large bowl.
- Mix together the honey, blackstrap molasses or maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, oil, ground flaxseeds and toss with the oatmeal to coat.
- Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 275°F (135°C) for 45 minutes.
- Cool and mix in the walnuts and dried fruit.
Carolyn Burris, an east Tennessee native, earned her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Community and Public Health Nutrition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her passion for helping those with nutritional needs brought her to Forum Health Knoxville. Carolyn particularly loves encouraging those struggling with food intolerance, obesity, fibromyalgia, and fatigue.
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