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Walnuts go back a long way!

Walnuts (Juglans regia) are tree nuts belonging to the walnut family. They originated in the Mediterranean region and Central Asia, and have been part of the human diet for thousands of years.

These nuts are rich in omega-3 fats, and contain higher amounts of antioxidants than most other foods. Walnuts are usually eaten on their own, as a snack, but can also be added to salads, pastas, breakfast cereals, soups and baked goods.

They’re also used to make walnut oil, an expensive culinary oil, frequently used in salad dressings. There are a few edible walnut species. The common walnut, sometimes referred to as the English or Persian walnut, is grown worldwide.

Another related species of commercial interest is the eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra), which is native to North America.

Fats

Walnuts contain about 65% fat, by weight. Like other nuts, most of the calories in walnuts come from fat, and this makes them an energy-dense, high-calorie food.

However, even though walnuts are rich in fat and calories, studies indicate that they don’t increase obesity risk, when replacing other foods in your diet.

Walnuts are also richer than most other nuts in polyunsaturated fats. The most abundant one is an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid.

Vitamins and minerals

Walnuts are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals, including:

*Copper: this mineral promotes heart health. It also helps maintain bone, nerve, and immune system function.

*Folic acid: also known as folate or Vitamin B9, folic acid has many important biological functions. Folic-acid deficiency during pregnancy may cause birth defects

*Phosphorus: about 1% of your body is made up of phosphorus, a mineral that is mainly present in bones. It has numerous functions

*Vitamin B6: this vitamin may strengthen your immune system and support nerve health. Vitamin B6 deficiency may cause anaemia

*Manganese: this trace mineral is found in the highest amounts in nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables

*Vitamin E: compared with other nuts, walnuts contain high levels of a special form of Vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol.

Other plant compounds

Walnuts contain a complex mixture of bioactive plant compounds.

They’re exceptionally rich in antioxidants, which are concentrated in the brown skin.

Health benefits of walnuts

Walnuts are linked to a number of health benefits. They have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as improved brain function.

Heart health

Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is a broad term used for chronic conditions related to the heart and blood vessels.

In many cases, your risk of heart disease can be reduced with healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nuts.

These effects are likely caused by the beneficial fat composition of walnuts, as well as their rich antioxidant content.

Brain health

Several studies indicate that eating nuts may improve brain function. They also show that walnuts can help with depression, and age-related decline in brain function.

A study in older adults linked regular consumption of walnuts with significant memory improvement. Walnuts have also been shown to improve brain function in animals. When mice with Alzheimer’s disease were fed walnuts every day for 10 months, their memory and learning skills improved significantly.

Similarly, studies in older rats found that eating walnuts for eight weeks reversed age-related impairments in brain function.

These effects are likely due to the high antioxidant content of walnuts, though their omega-3 fatty acids may play a role as well.

Cancer prevention

Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by abnormal cell growth. Your risk of developing certain types of cancer can be reduced by eating healthy food, exercising, and avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Since walnuts are a rich source of beneficial plant compounds, they could be an effective part of a cancer-preventive diet.

Observational studies have linked the regular consumption of nuts to a lower risk of colon and prostate cancer. This is supported by animal studies indicating that eating walnuts may suppress cancer growth in breast, prostate, colon and kidney tissue.

 

 

Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=48384

Posted by on Jun 28 2019. Filed under Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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