Many people are still wary of indulging in nuts because of their high fat content, but whilst they do contain a relatively high concentration of fat compared to other foods, these are mainly unsaturated fats that convey many health benefits. In particular, they are an excellent source of omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Research shows that including EFAs in the diet can help to prevent heart disease. The anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 EFAs are also thought to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of strokes. Other studies have identified that regular nut and seed consumption is unlikely to contribute to obesity and may even help in weight loss.
Walnuts are incredibly nutrient dense foods that contain numerous bioactive compounds. They are packed full of minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium and are a rich source of a range of important B vitamins. In addition to this they contain vitamin E, a powerful fat soluble antioxidant that is great for skin health. Phyto-chemicals such as ellagic acid, carotenoids and polyphenols are equally important substances found in walnuts that contribute to their overall antioxidant activity. We need antioxidants because they help to counter the effects of free radical substances that cause cell damage and accelerate the aging process.
Lucky for us walnuts are available all year round. If you buy walnuts in the shell these can be stored in a cool, dry place for many months. However, because of the high fat content of walnuts they are prone to rancidity. After buying shelled walnuts it is best to use them quickly or keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Walnuts freeze well so this is another option.
Walnuts are extremely versatile in the kitchen, but are often associated with baking. However, they make a delicious pesto and are particularly good when used to make walnut butter For vegans and vegetarians, walnut butter is a great source of protein as well as being a valuable source of the omega 3 EFAs. Walnut oil has a rich nutty flavour and is perfect for salad dressings, as a marinade for fish and steaks, or to toss into pasta.
Incorporating walnuts into your diet ensures you benefit from their valuable nutrients and get a good dose of protein too!