Nuts about walnuts

Great things do come in small packages. Like walnuts. They are loaded with nutritional benefits and are good for your brain, heart, skin, blood and bones. However, consuming too many can result in weight gain.

To obtain the health benefits without the extra calories, walnuts shouldn’t be added to your current diet or consumed as a snack. Instead, they should be part of your regular meal. For example, you can substitute foods high in saturated fats, such as meat or cheese, with walnuts. For breakfast, you can replace bacon and eggs with walnuts in your cereal or yoghurt. For supper, you can replace a serving of meat with a walnut salad. It’s simple; just chop and add.

Walnuts are the only nuts that contain a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids as well as alpha-linolenic acids (ALA) – a type of omega-3. The fatty acids in walnuts promote healthy brain function, lower cholesterol and improve the quality and elasticity of your arteries. ALA can significantly improve blood flow and reduce clots and blockages that lead to stroke and heart attack.

With a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, walnuts can reduce or eliminate health problems related to metabolic syndrome, such as excessive blood fats (triglycerides), high blood pressure and obesity. People with type-2 diabetes have benefited from walnuts in their diet. Seven walnuts (14 halves if already shelled) per day can lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase your good one (HDL).

Walnuts have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight cancers, particularly prostate and breast cancer. They also protect cells and skin from harmful free radicals found in nature. They are a rich source of protein, L-arginine, fibre, B-complex vitamins and minerals such as manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

The rich nutrition in walnuts can strengthen your bones and protect them against mineral depletion and deterioration. They are also a natural source of melatonin – the hormone that induces and regulates sleep. As we age, our bodies produce less melatonin. Eating walnuts at suppertime can help improve your sleep pattern.

If you are looking for ways in which to incorporate walnuts into your diet, California Walnuts is an excellent site that has many delicious and nutritious walnut-based recipes.

Note: Many people are allergic to nuts. Walnut allergies are caused by an immune reaction to the protein in the nut. Reactions can range from mild to life threatening. If you are unsure how well you can tolerate walnuts, you should get tested before including them into your diet.

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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