Go Nuts for Walnuts!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I grew up with a native black walnut tree in my back yard. Its ugly green corrugated round fruit would ripen and eventually fall in our yard each year serving as a routine lawn-mowing hazard. My brothers liked to use them to practice their baseball pitches. As they ripened on the ground, they would become yellow-black in color. When they looked like that, you knew not to touch them because their black dye would stain your hands. A great natural dye option perhaps but as a child I didn't have too many uses for that.

English Walnuts were first cultivated in the United States in California in the late 1700's.Today, 99 percent of the U.S. commercial supply of this type of walnut comes from California. A new report last week suggests that walnuts are the healthier nut choice.

Scientists found that walnuts contain twice as many antioxidants as other nuts like peanuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios. Another reason walnuts are considered better than other nuts is their higher content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) including both Omega 3's and Omega 6's. Most other nuts are higher in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Walnuts provide the plant based short-chain form of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that serves as the precursor for the longer chain Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Buying Tips - Walnuts can easily be found in the produce section or baking aisles of local supermarket and bulk food stores. You can find shelled walnuts as halves, halves and pieces, and chopped in addition to those still in the shell. Since walnuts are harvested in late August through November, you can find them most commonly in the fall. They may be harder to find in the spring especially whole in shell and depending on how they have been stored, they may not be the freshest tasting.

Care and Storage - Warm temperatures increase the likelihood of walnuts turning rancid when they can taste like paint thinner and shouldn't be eaten. To maintain freshness, keep walnuts cold either in a root cellar, refrigerator, or freezer. If the walnuts come in a sealed package, store them in their original packaging to maintain freshness. When purchasing bulk, place walnuts in an airtight container for cold storage. Walnuts absorb flavor of other foods so be sure to refrigerate away from foods like fish or onions that have strong odors. Heat changes the structure of the fat in walnuts which can also change the odor and flavor from the sweet taste and mild nutty smell of fresh.

Nutrition Facts - The recommended serving size for walnuts is one ounce which is approximately one quarter cup or 12-14 walnut halves.
Calories – 190
Protein – 4 grams
Total Fat – 18 grams
Saturated Fat – 1.5 grams
Monounsaturated Fat – 2.5 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat – 13 grams (including 2.5 grams of ALA)
Cholesterol – 0 grams
Sodium – 3 mg
Potassium – 125 mg
Carbohydrate – 4 grams
Fiber – 2 grams

Recipes - I love to eat nuts plain as well as the crunchy part of a main dish. There are plenty of creative and healthy recipes that can include walnuts. Consider including them as part of a Mixed Greens with Cranberries and Walnuts salad or enjoying them as part of an omega-3 power packed Banana Oatmeal Muffins with Flax Seeds & Walnuts. Be creative and add walnuts to some of your favorite dishes.

There are nine tree nut varieties. Which is your favorite and how do you enjoy eating them?

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Yum! I love walnuts. Report
I love walnuts (English walnuts). My favorite dessert of all time is a small container of Greek yogurt, a half dozen walnuts hand broken sprinkled over the top and a tablespoon of honey drizzled over everything. Amazing! Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Ironic timing! I just purchased some lovely walnut pieces on yesterday's shopping trip. Report
But that is a TON of calories for a very small serving size! Report
Thanks for the post, very informative...i love walnuts and i especially buy them online from www.radiantrawsuperfoods.com Report
One of my favorite ways to eat walnuts is with steel cut oatmeal and a small amount of honey, I chop the walnuts and it only takes a little bit. Report
I too am a big walnut lover but I take slight issue with this article. When dieters log our points/calories/fat grams, we don't make the distinction of good fat versus bad fat. It's all bad and to be ingested in moderation. There really isn't an exception clause saying you can eat all the fat your want as long as it's polyunsaturated fatty acids. I'm not trying to be a killjoy but I argue that the article is slightly misleading. If you dump a cup of nuts on your salad at noon and night, you'll soon find them caught in the wringer. ;) Adjudicate wisely, Sparkers! Report
I really dislike cashews and I dont care much for pecans or filberts but I will occasionally eat them . I used to like brazil nuts but I can't see to find them in Canada anymore. My mom used to have them when she was a kid. I really like walnuts and almonds. Report
Cashews are my favorite, with almonds and pecans as runners-up. Report
I love nuts they are a great snack. Report
I have to say walnuts and almonds are my favorite. I like them in salads,smoothies,oatmeal the list goes on. Report
I love almonds or walnuts - in muffins, in salads, with fruit, plain by themselves, in yogurt with some cocoa powder, on pasta - or just plain!

I also like cashews and pistachios, but I've developed an allergy to them - boo! Report
I prefer almonds, filberts (hazelnuts), or pecans over walnuts. There's something in fresh walnuts that burns my tongue. Report
I love walnuts! I eat them every morning in my oatmeal and have for almost 2 years now. Report
I like walnuts but not the calories. If we ate everything that is good for us, every day, what would the calories be?! Report
I'm a freak. I can eat peanuts & almonds, but none of the others. Somedays I get frustrated by the industry pushing everyone to eat Walnuts, Walnuts, Walnuts, but for the most part it doesn't bother me. Then again, whether it's to make me feel better or because they truly don't like them, most people I've talked to say that Walnuts are the worst tasting of them all. Report
I am allergic to tree nuts. I love peanuts and all things made with peanuts, though! Report
My favorite are almonds. Report
I love all nuts but my favorites are almonds & pecans. Report
I grew up with walnut trees in our yard as well. I love the taste of them and will be sure to incorporate them into my meals. Report
I live almonds. Report
I do like walnuts but the calories put me off eating them. I like all nuts but almond are great, not greasy and they make really handy snack packages for any time I feel hypo. It gets MY BS right back on track. Report
My favorite tree nuts are almonds and I like grinding them into flour to use in gluten-free recipes. I also love almond butter! I don't think they quite agree with my system, but my next favorite (peanuts) are not actually nuts! Report
I dislike black walnuts, but I really love white (English) walnuts. Report
I love all nuts but almonds and cashews are my favorites. Report
I've always loved hazelnuts and almonds together, and until I read this article I thought almonds were the healthiest nut! I'll have to add walnuts to my homemade dried fruit and nut "trail" mix!! Thanks for the tip! Report
Love all nuts, but walnuts are my favorite - for snacking and for baking with. How lucky you folks are who have black walnut trees to harvest! I can only dream... Report
I have hundreds of Black Walnut trees on our lake property. Every year I pick them up and process them for the next year . I deep them in my freezer all year. Great for baking and Holiday dishes. Report
I put walnuts in a smoothie that I drink everyday....until I started feeling yucky after drinking it. It took me awhile to figure out what was causing my upset stomach but I finally figured out it was the Walnuts. I do add nuts of some kind baking and oatmeal too but I sure don't eat a lot of walnuts anymore...i miss them ;-)
I love walnuts and have to confess that my favorite splurge is a salad from a restaurant in downtown Cincy. It's greens, pears, chicken, blue cheese crumbles, candied walnuts and a white wine vinaigrette. I know.... not the healthiest salad in the world!! Report