WHATS IN THE NUT?

Walnuts - The Brain Food

Did you know that walnuts have been considered brain food from way back? Originally named brain food because the surface of this nut has a crinkly appearance strikingly similar to the brain. Walnuts are considered a sign of intelligence leading people to believe that walnuts can actually make you smarter. This is not just an old wives tale because consuming walnuts helps promote brain function. There are two types of walnuts, brown and black. Our primary focus will be on the benefits of brown walnuts.

shelled-walnuts

Walnuts can easily fit into any diet, whether a weight loss diet or a health conscious one.

In addition, to being quite tasty, walnuts contain more antioxidants than any other nut. An example of an antioxidant in the walnut is melatonin, which helps overcome insomnia. It is amazing how many vitamins and minerals just one walnut contains.  Walnuts are also rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids stop the oxidation of bad cholesterol called LDL. They boost bone health by increasing the absorption of calcium in the body. These smart nuts possess anti-inflammatory properties which improve both brain health and lift moods. The lack of omega - 3 fatty acids provided by walnuts can cause irritability, hyperactivity and even tantrums. Adults struggling with depression will find eating walnuts helpful in combating it.  Among the many vitamins that walnuts contain is Vitamin E which helps improve skin problems and prevents wrinkles and dry skin.

Doctors call walnuts the “Power Food”.  These nuts are recommended by doctors to athletes for improvement of their body stamina. Your immune system gets a boost when you eat a delicious walnut regularly.  For the women who detest a bad hair day, walnuts significantly strengthen and thicken hair follicles as well as decrease dandruff. Now for the men, walnuts improve male fertility by improving the quality and count of their sperm.

People with diabetes, high blood pressure, and  chronic inflammation find much improvement in their health when increasing their intake of walnuts. Walnuts are best eaten raw.  If you roast them, it will lose some of the health benefits.

The skin of the walnut is very healthy and should be eaten in this natural state. Many of the antioxidants just happen to be found in the skin. Just eating 7 walnuts a day will give you vitamins including vitamins B & C as well as proteins, magnesium, iron and  potassium.

As mentioned before, walnuts can be quite advantageous in specific diets.  For example, The Mediterranean Diet has been consistently hailed as the most healthy of diets both for weight loss seekers and health conscious individuals as well.

Take a look at the “Eating Well Magazine” 12,000 calories 7 day Mediterranean diet planDay one and day two’s breakfasts includes one tablespoon of chopped walnuts on top of hot oatmeal.  Day two and day four’s night time snacks includes five walnut halves. The Eating Well 12,000 calorie diet is a weight loss program. However, the Mediterranean diet is by no means a diet exclusively for weight loss. On the contrary it is a healthful diet even for those who have no poundage to shed.

The Mediterranean Diet is based on the foods people used to eat in countries like Greece and Italy as far back as the 1600’s. Many recent studies have show that besides weight loss, this diet is beneficial in helping prevent heart attacks, strokes, and Diabetes Type 2.  The Mediterranean diet includes more plant foods and less animal food especially red meat. Nuts such as walnuts are encouraged especially in the winter if fresh produce is hard to purchase

In your area. You will be instructed to fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. For instance, you will be instructed to substitute olive oil and walnut oil instead of butter.  Olive oil is best for cooking when the oil is heating up since walnut oil will burn at a lower temperature. Walnut oil is great in salads and dressings and it has a deep nutty flavor.

Here are the basics of the diet.  Increase your intake of : fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans, tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips) whole grain breads, fish and of course walnut and olive oil.  Spices are important in this diet. Decrease your ingestion of dairy products and highly processed foods. Stay away from refined oils, refined grains, added sugars especially in drinks and processed meats (cold cuts and hot dogs). Avocados and olives are basics on this diet. This is only a partial list to introduce you to this nutritious and wholesome way of eating.

There are two main beverages to drink on this die: water and red wine.  About one glass of red wine per day is recommended. Coffee and tea are okay without sweeteners.  A handful of walnuts is the best go to snack. They really fill you up. So for all of you walnut fans out there - keep eating your brain food.

There are also healthy ways to incorporate walnuts in your cooking and baking. Ground walnuts are a delicious additive to your toll house cookie recipe.  Even better are chopped walnuts which give the extra crunch that kids love. Use the ground walnuts instead of bread crumbs when coating your fish fillets.

mediterranean-diet

Walnut butter is also a most delicious addition to your food preparation.  Try adding one quarter cup of walnuts or two tablespoons of walnut butter to your smoothie. What could be more delicious than dipping your walnut halves in a high quality melted dark chocolate ? After dipping, let your chocolate covered walnuts harden and you have a replacement for a sweet chocolate candy. For your famous apple crumble, replace your  white flour with half ground walnuts and half whole wheat flour; then wait for the rave reviews. 

Notice how colorful and appealing the foods appear. It’s almost as if a food artist placed them on your plate for the look only. However, advocates of the Mediterranean diet asks you to eat these various picturesque foods for their nutritional value. Each color has their own set of micro-nutrients.

Fresh produce, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are all full of fiber – and they're all staples of the Mediterranean Diet. 

Sometimes, the simplest foods are best for your health, and this is certainly the case for walnuts, in which Mother Nature has designed a nearly perfect toolkit of protein, healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, and many other minerals vitamins.