The nuts are featured on the Christmas table, but it would be good to remember them all the other days of the year. This shell fruit has indeed many beneficial properties : why not do it?
Walnuts help keep appetite under control and lower blood sugar. The daily consumption of about 15 grams of nuts then reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and helps prevent cardiovascular diseases as well as some cancers
In a balanced diet, a nut-based snack does not make you fat, on the contrary: away from the main meals can even help us lose weight compared to a snack with the same calories but rich in carbohydrates. Not to mention the benefits that nuts can also bring to our brains : they are rich in essential fatty acids , such as linoleic and linolenic, which are, to say the least, strategic for nourishing nerve cells.
In short, it is certainly not a coincidence that walnuts have entered the list of ” super – food “, ie food that do so much good for your health.
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Walnuts: a story that is lost in the mists of time
The walnut (Juglans regia L.) is native to the Middle East and Central Asia, in the area extended to the Himalayan chain. It has arrived in the European and Mediterranean area since prehistoric times, finding an ideal habitat in our peninsula. It is also called Persian walnut or English walnut.
From the dawn of time walnut is a plant known and useful for the characteristics of its wood, for the fruits it produces and for the oil it produces.
Greeks and Romans used it a lot. In the Middle Ages, Charlemagne wanted walnut trees to be planted in the orchard reserved for him. After the discovery of the New Continent , the Spaniards brought the nuts to America, arriving in California where the first crops originated, thanks to some monks who settled there.
Walnut, solitary tree
The walnut tree prefers hilly and mountainous areas up to about 1000 meters above sea level. It does not integrate easily in spontaneous woods, but normally grows solitary at the edges, expanding an impressive crown that can reach up to 20 m in height.
The explanation of its isolation is due to the fact that the walnut produces a substance toxic to the other plants (the juglone) that accumulates in the leaves. These falling contaminate the soil and prevent other plants from growing. This organic compound is also present in the huskof the walnuts and irreparably tinges everything it touches with black .
The nut flowers between April and May and the fruits are drupes that ripen between August and September.
How walnuts are made: the drupe and the husk
The drupe is similar to a large olive with a green and fleshy outer covering (the hull) : with maturation this darkens and hardens. The inner part, in its development, passes from fleshy to woody and wrinkled. It is composed of two parts, joined together to form a protective shell for the seed (kernel).
The seed, which is housed inside the shell, consists of 4 lobes joined together, covered by a woody film in the interspaces. The kernel is the edible part. It has a sweet taste, vaguely tannic, with a crunchy consistency and is rich in fats , proteins , copper and zinc salts , and much more: a real food mine.
From the husk , inedible part, and from the bark of the walnut, a dark pigment is extracted used for the tanning of the skins and for the coloring of other species of wood. The still green husk , with the internal woody part not yet developed, is the main ingredient for making a liqueur called nocino.
Fresh and dry walnuts
Of the nuts, as is known, only the kernel inside the woody covering is consumed. This fruit can be consumed in a fresh or dried state. As soon as they are picked, the nuts have a sweeter and more pleasant taste thanks to the water content and the lower presence of nutrient concentration.
Thanks to the drying process , the water is eliminated by dehydration: this allows the fruit to be stored more easily and for longer in time. The dried product has a lower weight due to the lack of water, but has a higher density of nutrients.
Once purchased, the nuts must be carefully stored away from moisture to avoid the development of mold and parasitic infestations. The fungus can be very harmful because it can generate carcinogenic mycotoxins: aflatoxins.
Walnuts are indeed a precious fruit: rich in vitamin E, A, B1, B6, and a great many minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, copper, calcium, iron, potassium.
NUTRITIONAL APPLE NUTS
Calories: 100 g-2884 kcal
Water soluble vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins
Vitamin B1 :0.45 mg
Vitamin A 48 ug B-carotene eq.
Vitamin B2 : 0.1 mg
Vitamin E:3 mg
Vitamin C ; 0
Vitamin K 2.7 ug
Vitamin B3 : 0
Vitamin B6 0.14 mg
total folates:66 ug
Walnuts: beneficial properties
There are 2884 calories per 100 grams of walnuts : let’s not panic, but we ponder well the daily quantities of nuts that we can take and the benefits that this exceptional seed is able to give us.
If they have been included in the ” superfood ” category, that is, among foods that contain a high level of nutrients that carry out beneficial activities for health, it is because its nutrients are able to protect our body from many diseases.
Here are the main benefits of nuts.
They help heart health . Thanks to the essential fatty acids they contain, or omega 3, they are a valid help to keep the cardiovascular system in good condition. Walnuts are rich in fats: of these only 10% are saturated, that is “bad” fats, while the rest are unsaturated fats. Moreover, again due to the effect of omega 3, walnuts are able to reduce cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis , thanks to the combined action of fats with arginine and vitamin E.
They have anticancer properties. Not only the omega 3, but also the many antioxidants they contain – such as polyphenols – make nuts a perfect food to ward off some types of cancer.
Improve physical performance . Thanks to the high energy power and the presence of proteins, mineral salts such as magnesium and arginine, walnuts are ideal for recovering energy in intense periods but also for those who do sports.
They help lower high blood pressure . It is always the polyunsaturated fatty acids that perform this function: in particular alpha-linoleic acid and arginine, which enhance the elasticity of blood vessels.
They stabilize blood sugar and improve mood . In nuts there are molecules capable of stabilizing blood sugar. Moreover, thanks to the combined action of omega 3, magnesium and tryptophan, they help you improve mood.
They are useful against pollutants . Thanks to quercetin , walnuts play protective effects against pollutants that cause an overproduction of free radicals, accelerating cellular aging.
A handful of nuts a day
What is the daily amount of nuts we can take without running the risk of overdoing it? To answer this question, a recent study, published in BMC Medicine and conducted by a working group at Imperial College London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, comes to our aid .
The survey covered a sample of eight hundred thousand people. The outcome determined that with a consumption of 20 grams of walnuts per day, the equivalent of a handful, you could get 30% reductions in the probability of experiencing coronary heart disease in life , or 15% suffering from cancer. , 22% of the risk of premature death.
Contraindications related to nut consumption are mainly related to possible allergic reactions . In severe cases, walnut allergy can cause anaphylactic shock even in the presence of very small quantities.
It is always good to read carefully the labels that, by law, must indicate the presence of allergenic substances such as walnuts, or any residues deriving from their processing in the same environment or establishment.
Being then very caloric it is advisable to make a moderate consumption, avoiding to exceed 30/40 grams per day.
How to choose nuts?
Autumn is the perfect season to stock up on nuts. To choose them better … let’s beware of appearances! In fact, it would be natural to discard the walnuts that have black specks on the shell: nothing more tangled. Those spots, caused by the husk juice , are the proof that the nuts were not chemically bleached.
In the choice, another parameter to consider is the lack of lesions on the shell. If the walnuts still have the stalk and leaves attached … the choice will be excellent !!
Walnuts, an ally for beauty
Like most products of the earth, nuts can also be used for cosmetics. In particular it is very interesting the use that is made of the husk , the inedible pulpy layer, which protects the shell of the walnut when it is still on the tree.
Walnut oil is traditionally used to protect and to tan the skin . It owes this property to the naphthoquinones it contains, substances which, reacting with the keratin of the epidermis, act as a selective filter : on the one hand they shield the skin from UVB rays , on the other hand they accelerate the melanogenesis induced by UVA rays .
To say goodbye to dry skin, here is a face mask , which can easily be prepared at home. Simply blend a few walnut kernels and cover it with liquid cream. Let the mixture rest for one night, add a tablespoon of honey and apply generously on the face for thirty minutes.
Walnuts in the kitchen
Considering the caloric intake, it is better to put the walnuts in a breakfast or a mid-day snack , perhaps instead of a packaged snack, too rich in sugar or unhealthy ingredients.
In addition to being an ideal snack, walnuts can be used as ingredients for desserts and desserts , or for sauces and condiments, but also to complement salads with taste .
If you like nuts, discover some recipes with nuts .
If you are lucky enough to have green nuts , not yet ripe, you can make the ancient traditional Modena recipe: the Nocino liqueur .