Sunday, 1 November 2015

My Favourite Superfoods - Walnuts

Walnut Pieces

Monkey nuts were one of my favourite snacks as a child but walnuts only ever made an appearance at Christmas in the bowl of mixed nuts on the table. I remember that they were the easiest nut to crack! But what a mess they made, tiny bits of shell flying all over the sparkling white tablecloth. Actually, walnuts aren't nuts, they're drupes. Drupes are fleshy fruits where the fruit surrounds a shell with a seed inside but unlike other drupes like cherries and peaches for example, we eat the seed of the walnut fruit instead of the flesh itself.

So what makes walnuts so special and so important, especially for a vegetarian or vegan diet? Primarily, they're a hugely significant source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids essential for optimum health, lowering cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation and improving blood circulation. And have you ever thought that a walnut looks like a brain? Interestingly, the omega 3 fatty acids contained in walnuts are imperative for brain health and the nervous system.

Walnuts are also a fantastic source of manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin E and B-complex vitamins and they're packed full of antioxidants including some very rare phytonutrients. This may explain why research has discovered that walnuts contain unique cancer prevention properties. I talked a little about walnuts and they're importance as part of a anti-prostate cancer diet in my Waldorf Salad recipe post.

Other interesting facts about walnuts include :
  • They are considered to be the oldest tree food.
  • There are two type of walnut, the Black Walnut which is native to North America and the English (or Persian) Walnut.
  • They originated in Ancient Persia.
  • The majority of walnuts eaten are "English" walnuts, so named because they were originally shipped around the world by English merchants.
  • Walnut trees can grow to a height of 150 feet.
  • Walnuts are an essential part of The Mediterranean Diet.
  • Unshelled walnuts will remain fresh for several months stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Walnut oil was sometimes used by painters (notably Leonardo Da Vinci) in their pigments.

Walnuts can so easily be added to your meals to boost their nutritional profile and improve your well-being. Walnuts appear in several of my recipes including :

A plate of Butternut Squash Beetroot and Avocado Salad

10 comments:

  1. Wow, I had no idea that walnuts weren't a nut! That's incredible! Thank you so much for sharing all of this information :). I literally just finished eating a handful of walnuts before reading this! I love them! :)

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    1. Me too, they are definitely high up on my favourite snack list and guilt free (despite the fact there's 25 calories in each walnut), I think, considering they're so good for you!

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  2. Loved this post Vicky! You've taught me so much. I knew walnuts contained omega 3, but I never knew they contained all those minerals and antioxidants. They truly are a 'superfood'! While I wasn't keen as a child, I've grown to adore walnuts and I now eat them every day, sprinkled on my breakfast cereal and in trail mix. I also make sure Lil' L gets a daily dose, by crumbling them into his overnight oats :)

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    1. Thank you Sharon, I can understand you not liking them much when you were a child, they're a bit of a peculiar taste for a child but it's good that Lil'L is eating them. They're one of nature's special foods, I think!

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  3. I love walnuts :) I have them in my porridge on cold mornings with some cinnamon and raisens. Interesting read!

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    1. That sounds nice combination of flavours Julia, I'm glad you found it interesting x

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  4. I love walnuts and their versatility - especially great in a salad x

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    1. Hi Rebecca

      I agree, I think I like them best in salads too for both texture and taste.

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  5. I really like walnuts, thanks for sharing those facts, I didn't know most of them!

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    1. Thank you for your comment Emily and you're welcome.

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