The walnut is a dried fruit that you should eat every day. Nutritionally, it provides us with very necessary benefits for our health.
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What is the Nut?
The walnut is the future of the common walnut, although there are other types of nuts that are called walnuts. They are the fruits that have an edible seed and that are covered by a hard shell. They can be chestnut, acorn or hazelnut. However, the macadamia nut is not a proper nut, since botanically, it is a follicle.
On this occasion, we are going to talk about the common walnut, the fruit of the walnut. In addition, these foods have very beneficial nutritional characteristics for our health.
It is round in shape with a hard, rough shell. Inside it keeps the edible part with a very characteristic flavor and texture. Its smell is very significant.
Inside, the edible seed is divided into four parts, with an appearance that closely resembles a brain. It is advisable to eat these fruits every day.
Origin of the walnut
There are written data that place this fabulous fruit in Mesopotamian civilization more than 7000 years ago. In Mesopotamia walnut trees were already cultivated for food purposes.
It was the empire of Alexander the Great who introduced the walnuts to Greece from Persia where it was known as Theos balanos , which means “seed of Zeus”, which in turn means “seed of God.“
Later, it was the Romans who did the job of spreading the cultivation of walnut throughout their empire in the 4th century, reaching the regions where they are currently cultivated. These foods became very popular for their beneficial properties for health and to prevent certain diseases.
In Spain the walnut is grown exclusively in the northern part of the country with a single type of walnut. It is known as the walnut of Castilla (juglans regia). It is the same type or variety that is grown in most European regions.
Although it is original from Asia, its cultivation is extended to many regions of Europe and America.
At present, walnuts have a world production of approximately 1.2 tons and the first producer is China, followed by the United States, Iran and Turkey.
Types of walnut
In addition, there are more than 20 types of walnuts around the world. It is worth noting the pecan variety that is grown in North America. The Australian macadamia which, although botanically not a nut, has this nutritional consideration for all intents and purposes.
We can highlight the following varieties:
They are those that are produced in Spain and in most regions of Europe. They are ideal to consume in autumn. Due to their composition, they have very antioxidant properties. They are recommended to eat raw.
They are the most common , although their nutritional value is lower than those of Castilla. They are larger and are consumed both raw and in different recipes.
It is a variety that comes from the American continent. It is smoother and longer than the previous ones. It stands out for its aroma and flavor. It is widely used in different recipes.
This variety comes from Russia. Due to its composition, the essential amino acids stand out.
The season is relative, since the fruit is usually collected in December, but is on the market throughout the year.
Conservation depends a lot on whether we have bought it with the shell or without it. With the shell the conservation is much more durable and it is recommended to store them in a dry place without direct light.
If we buy them peeled, it is better to keep them in the original container. Once opened, they can be stored in the fridge or even frozen to increase shelf life.
If purchased in bulk, there is the option of vacuum preserving to keep them fresh for a longer period of time.
How do you eat the walnut?
The nut is eaten raw, alone or as an ingredient in various types of dessert recipes , salads or different types of stews. It is an ideal ingredient for any type of recipes.
Raw are ideal to eat as an aperitif or snack. It is also a very versatile food that we can use as an ingredient in our favorite recipe for salads, ice cream or in a wide variety of recipes for soups, sauces or stews.
These fruits are also used to make different types of liqueurs.
How are walnuts peeled?
Peeling these fruits is simple. There are a few different tricks, depending on the variety.
I would like to explain that the nines have a thin skin that is a bit bitter. When I eat it raw, I don’t mind too much, but adding these foods to different recipes can cause the bitterness to make the recipe not quite right. For this reason I explain how to remove this skin, it is very simple.
In the case of Castile nuts, the first thing to do is break the shell, which is the first layer. You can use a nutcracker. The next step is to heat the milk or water to a boil, remove from the heat and add the walnuts.
Let stand between 3 and 5 minutes. This time will help to remove the thin skin that they have and that is responsible for the bitter taste. With the help of a fine point knife you will see that it is very simple.
Another way to peel them is after freezing them for 20 minutes, although I have not tried this way.
This dried fruit is the one that gives us the most benefits thanks to its nutritional composition. We recommend eating them every day, but in moderation. It will help us maintain a healthy diet and prevent many diseases.
They are very balanced foods in fats and rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The fats they provide us with are saturated in a small percentage. Monounsaturated fat is present in a higher percentage. Likewise, the most present fat is polyunsaturated and it is the one that largely provides us with omega 3 fatty acids that help us with cardiovascular problems.
Likewise, it provides us with proteins and vitamins such as E and others from group B (B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9) . Also minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc and iron.
Average nutritional value per 100 grams of walnut
The benefits that walnuts give us are different and varied. We list some of the reasons to introduce walnuts into our diet.
A food for our brain
These fruits provide us with lecithin, phosphorus and vitamins of group B. They are essential nutrients for good nutrition of one of the most important organs of the body.
They are nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of our brain, cognitive functions and memory.
Natural and healthy energizer
It gives us a very healthy combination of fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These nutrients are responsible for providing us with energy when the body needs it.
In the same way, it is ideal to replenish energy after intense exercise or after playing sports.
Helps reduce bad cholesterol
There is a study in this regard by Marta Guasch Ferré at Harvard University. It deals with the Mediterranean diet and more specifically about the habitual consumption of walnuts. As a result, this study determines that the regular consumption of walnuts helps considerably to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides . In addition, it helps us prevent many diseases and improve our health.
Ideal for weight loss diets
In the same study, it was found that the habitual consumption of walnuts did not seem to negatively affect the increase in body weight. In addition, because it is rich in healthy fats, it is a satisfying food. As a consequence, it is an ideal food to include in a weight loss diet.
Promotes the elimination of abdominal fat
According to different studies, people who incorporate this food in their diet experience a significant increase in serotonin levels.
This substance favors the transmission of nerve signals and increases the feeling of satiety. It also reduces the concentration of substances directly related to inflammation. Likewise, it favors the reduction of abdominal fat.
For a healthy heart
Thanks to the aforementioned scientific study, these nuts have been shown to be an essential ingredient for a healthy cardiovascular system.
An antioxidant dried fruit
Walnuts have been shown to be the nuts with the most antioxidants, above peanuts, pistachios or almonds .
Digestive and laxatives
They are very digestive, since their consumption helps the good state of the microbiota, responsible for the proper functioning of the digestive system.
In addition, thanks to its contribution of fiber, it is an ideal food to regulate intestinal transit , avoiding constipation.
This natural health capsule called walnut is a food that is delicious and is very versatile, being able to use it in any recipe. Likewise, it is an ideal food to consume every day in a responsible way, as it can help us live better and in better health.
My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.