- Scientific Name: Juglans regia (English or Persian Walnut)
- Family: Juglandaceae
- Plant Type: Deciduous tree
Walnuts are a nutrient-dense food that is rich in healthy fats, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. A 1-ounce serving of walnuts provides around 185 calories, 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 18 grams of fat, of which 13 grams are healthy unsaturated fats. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health and reducing inflammation.
Walnuts also contain antioxidants, such as vitamin E, and minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorus, which play a role in bone health and energy metabolism. Incorporating walnuts into a balanced diet can provide numerous health benefits, including improved heart health and cognitive function.
The history of walnut trees can be traced back thousands of years, with the English or Persian walnut originating from India and the regions surrounding the Caspian Sea. The ancient Romans introduced the walnut to many European countries in the 4th century AD, where it has been grown since. Throughout history, the walnut tree has been highly valued for its uses in food, medicine, shelter, dye, and lamp oil.
Black and white walnuts are native to North America, specifically the Central Mississippi Valley and Appalachian area. These varieties played an important role in the diets and lifestyles of both Native American Indians and early colonial settlers.
Currently, China is the largest commercial producer of walnuts in the world, with the United States coming in second. Within the US, about 90% of all walnuts are grown in California, particularly within the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys.
The annual combined walnut output of Iran and Turkey is approximately the same as the United States, with the Ukraine and Romania following closely in terms of total walnut production.
- Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and Omega-3 fatty acids which improve artery function and heart health.
- The melatonin in walnuts is a powerful antioxidant that can check cellular decay caused by free radicals, minimizing the risk of many life-threatening diseases.
- Walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve brain function, and memory, and relieve depression.
- Black walnut hulls may be beneficial for ridding the body of intestinal worms and parasites, as well as for treating gout, glandular conditions, and rheumatism.
- A poultice made from black walnut hulls can ease skin conditions caused by fungus, such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, and jock itch.
- Walnuts contain anti-inflammatory nutrients that support bone health and decrease blood levels of N telopeptides of type 1 collagen, indicating better bone stability and less mineral loss.
- Walnuts can support weight loss and prevent obesity due to their unique collection of anti-inflammatory nutrients.
- Walnuts have potential health benefits for memory and cognitive processes.
- Walnuts contain melatonin, which regulates sleep, daily rhythms, light-dark adjustment, and other processes in the body.
- Choose walnuts that feel heavy for their size, as this indicates that they are fresh and have a high oil content.
- Check the expiration or best-by date on the packaging to ensure that the walnuts are fresh.
- Smell the walnuts to make sure they have a mild nutty aroma. If they smell sour or rancid, they may be spoiled.
- Shake the walnuts to see if they rattle inside their shells. If they do, it could indicate that they are dried out or have shrunk inside the shell.
- Look for walnuts that are uniform in color, as this is a sign that they have been stored properly and are less likely to be stale or moldy.
- If possible, buy walnuts that are still in their shells, as this can help protect them from moisture and air, which can cause them to go bad more quickly.
- Store walnuts in an airtight container to keep them fresh for longer periods of time.
- Keep walnuts away from strong-smelling foods, as they can absorb the odors.
- Store walnuts in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cupboard.
- If you want to extend the shelf life of walnuts, you can also store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
- If storing in the refrigerator or freezer, be sure to use an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent moisture from getting in.
- When storing walnuts in the freezer, it’s a good idea to label the container with the date you put them in, so you can keep track of how long they’ve been in there.
- Keep in mind that walnuts have a high oil content, so they can go rancid if stored improperly or for too long. It’s best to consume them within a few months of purchase for maximum freshness.
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound of pasta
- Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let them cool.
- In a food processor, pulse the basil, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper until finely chopped.
- With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto is smooth.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the pesto and toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out.
- Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
4 cups of mixed greens
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup of balsamic vinaigrette
In a large bowl, combine the mixed greens, apple slices, feta cheese, walnuts, and dried cranberries.
- Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately.