Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, dating back to 7000 B.C. Native to Persia, they were reserved for royalty. The Greeks called it the "nut of Jupiter", the nut for the gods. Walnuts have been regarded as the symbols of intellectuals because the kernel resembles the brain and not surprisingly they are a good source of the omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that keep the brain functioning normally.
Nutrition & Health
Like most nuts, walnuts are naturally cholesterol free, gluten free, low in saturated fat and a low glycemic-index food. They are good source of protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins & minerals and particularly:
Highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than any other nut
ALA (one of the best plant based omega 3 fatty acid) is required by the human body and well known for it´s anti-inflammatory effects. It aids in lowering cholesterol, thus decreasing blood pressure, heart diseases and stroke. A one ounce serving provides 2.5g ALA. While most nuts contain monounsaturated fats, only walnuts are comprised primarily of polyunsaturated fat (13 grams out of 18 grams total fat).
Rich source of vitamin E
The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is somewhat unusual and particularly beneficial for the heart. Gamma-tocopherol (a type of Vitamin E) helps maintain the integrity of cell membranes of mucus and skin by protecting them from harmful free radicals. This is especially important in cardiovascular health.
Rich source of minerals (magnesium & phosphorous)
Both important minerals involved in the body's processes and principally in bone health.
Highest level of antioxidants than other nuts
Phytochemical antioxidants such as melatonin, ellagic acids, Vitamin E, and polyphenolic compounds help protect against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.
In a nutshell, consumption of walnuts in a healthy diet has been associated with many disease prevention benefits such as improved brain, heart & reproductive health, diabetes management & weight control, reduction of inflammation & cancer prevention, bone strength as well as other health benefits like better bowel function due to the fiber content of this nut.
Handling and Storage
Due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, walnuts go rancid when exposed to warm temperatures for long periods of time. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator if you're going to use them within a couple of months, otherwise store them in the freezer up to a year. If you cannot store in the refrigerator, make sure you store them in a in a cool, dry, dark place.