Walnuts are a perfect example of how sometimes a delicious flavor comes with high nutritional levels. Also, they are available year round and can be eaten and prepared in thousands of ways.
They come from a beautiful tree (Juglans major) as its fruit. The outside layer of the fruit is green, below it there is a hard brown shell that hides the kernel. The kernel consists of two lobes that look like butterfly wings (some might say they even look like brains). The kernel is the only edible part of this fruit.
The most important feature of walnuts is their high content of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Even though they contain the word “fat” that most see as a negative thing, these fatty acids are vital for normal functions and the development of the body. The human body cannot create them by itself so it is important to include them in our diet/nutrition.
A quarter cup of walnuts contains a little more than 90 percent of the necessary daily intake of Omega 3. This amount is believed to prevent cardiovascular diseases and to help fight rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential for normal brain functions, especially the cognitive processes.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids also prevent erratic hearth rhythms and prevent blood clotting.
Walnuts also contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid which improves the immune system.
It is a known fact that high cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Walnuts can be helpful in that sense because they contain monounsaturated fats that reduce the cholesterol levels.
Walnuts are beneficial for people who suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure). This is most likely due to the fact they contain l-arginine, an essential amino acid that converts to nitric oxide, a chemical that helps the maintenance of blood vessels, keeping them relaxed and smooth.
Walnuts are an important source of antioxidants. Several studies have shown that antioxidants from walnuts play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, antioxidants are vital in fighting free radicals, whose influence ranges from skin problems and aging to serious diseases like cancer.
The good news is that it only takes a small amount of walnuts for them to have a positive effect on health, and they go deliciously with other foods.
A handful of walnuts four times a week is an excellent way to prevent cardiovascular disease. Walnuts are great when combined with other nuts or dried fruits in a healthy snack. If added in cereals, they provide an extra crunch, they go well with ice cream and are excellent in muffins, cakes and cookies, whether they are crushed or minced. They can even be used in pastas, risottos and salads.