Walnuts are one of the world’s healthiest nuts and belong to the tree nut family. A list of nuts in the same family is Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, and many others. When I think of walnuts, I automatically think of the health benefits that I’m reaping with each bite. There are no risks unless you have a walnut allergy, and are otherwise a very nutritional and healthy food. Incorporating these nuts into your diet will give you a boost of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals to keep you functioning at your best! Whether you like to eat them plain or in honey walnut shrimp, there are benefits all around.
Walnut Fun Facts
- “Walnuts were brought to California in the 18th century. Today, this U.S. state produces 75% of the world’s supply of walnuts.
- Due to its appearance, with the shell shaped like a human skull and the kernel resembling a brain, walnuts have always been regarded as “brain food.” Recent studies have proven that they do promote brain function because of their omega-3 fatty acid content.
- If you want to preserve the taste of a walnut, do not shell it. Oxygen in the atmosphere will turn the oils in the nut rancid and spoil it.
- The black walnut is the tallest variety of walnut tree and can grow to a height of more than 100 feet.
- Walnut trees can live up to 250 years.
- The walnut tree’s roots are strong and deep. It enhances its survival through a phenomenon called allelopathy, where the roots secrete chemicals called juglones that inhibit the growth of other plants near it.”
- “Walnuts are the oldest known tree food — they date back to 10,000 BC.
- California has about 227,000 walnut-bearing acres, and in 2010 the walnut crop is expected to be 510,000 short tons, a record production!
- There are more than 30 varieties of commercially produced walnuts.”
The walnut dates back to 10,000 B.C. and is known as the oldest known tree food. That is pretty powerful, seeing as this amazing little nut packs a mean punch in the nutritional department and gives a variety of nutrients to those who eat them. The history books tell us that walnuts originally came from ancient Persia, where they were only eaten by the royals. They were later traded on the Silk Road in between Asia and the Middle Eastern countries. It was later traded around the world, and was sailed around the seas for other lands to enjoy. Today, California produces the world’s top quality walnuts.
According to Walnut.org,
“The walnut was first cultivated in California by the Franciscan Fathers in the late 1700s. The earliest walnuts to enter California were known as “mission” walnuts. Unlike today’s walnuts, these first entries were small with hard shells. The trees flourished in the Mediterranean-like climate zones of California, and by the 1870s, modern walnut production had begun with orchard plantings in southern California, near Santa Barbara.”
The actual first commercial planting occurred in 1967, when Joseph Sexton started the movement for California walnut harvesting. Seventy years later, a monumental move happened when the cultivation moved from southern to central California where the soil and growing conditions were prime for producing the world’s best walnuts.
The Black Walnut Tree
The black walnut tree is native to North America, and it produces large walnuts that are not seen as “gourmet” as the traditional walnut. The black walnut does have its health benefits, however, and according to organic facts,
“Some of the most important health benefits of the black walnut include its ability to improve heart health, reduce inflammation, stimulate circulation, lower blood pressure, prevent certain types of cancer, provide antifungal protection, boost the immune system, regulate digestion, and treat a wide variety of skin conditions.”
Walnuts are not just popular in North America however, as they have been grown in Ireland for over 400 years, even though the climate is not like California. The one problem they run into while growing walnuts in an area with a lot of rainfall is a condition called walnut blight. This is essentially the blackening of the walnut roots, which will affect the pH levels of the soil and reduces the number of male fruits, which eventually spoils the produce. This is not ideal, but walnuts are still harvested in Ireland to this day, as many of their trees are planted in sunny and well drained conditions.
Today, walnut cultivation takes place all over the world in many different countries and climates, like China, Iran, Romania, France, Italy, and Turkey. Most walnut orchards have a life expectancy of around 60-100 years, so they are worth the investment due to the long life span and massive production of walnuts each year. These little gems are a great and powerful nutritional boost once you crack into one of them, so get one today and reap the benefits!
Walnut Nutritional Facts
According to Fruit and Nut, these small but mighty morsels contain a large abundance of vitamins and minerals. A walnut contains: thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, and calcium. For every 100 grams of walnuts you consume, there are around 650 calories. These little nuts are also loaded with an abundance of omega-3 (9 grams) and omega-6 (38 grams), which are great for heart health even though they are higher in calories. When looking at their fat (65g) and calorie content, you might jump to the conclusion that these nuts will spark weight gain, but fear not. If you replace other foods in your diet with walnuts, you will remain extremely healthy, just do not go overboard!
Walnut Health Benefits
Walnuts are awesome because they reduce the unhealthy cholesterol levels in the body and enhance your metabolism overall. Many times they are referred to as brain food, which is ironic because they physically symbolize a human brain before they are shelled! In just one ounce of walnuts, there are 4 grams of protein, which make this food a hunger fighting gem for those looking to stabilize their blood sugar levels. Because walnuts are high in omega-3 and 6, they are naturally going to be good for your heart.
According to Organic Facts,
“Scientific studies prove that the inclusion of walnuts in any diet helps prevent coronary heart diseases by favoring a healthy lipid supply.”
Other health benefits when consuming walnuts are bone health, improved metabolism, blood sugar control, cancer prevention, and major anti-inflammatory properties. Walnuts are said to give you a natural mood lift, as they contain omega-3’s, which balance out feelings of depression, hyperactivity, and irritability. Many wonder how to incorporate walnuts into their daily diet, and it is as simple as placing them in your salad, shredding them over chicken or fish before baking, or even adding them chopped to yogurt in the morning.
There are many different varieties of walnuts growing around the world that I will note below, some come from Spanish roots, French, and even American. Overall, no matter which variety you choose, all walnuts are healthy, so grab yourself a handful and enjoy!
A California grown walnut that is smaller in size and it requires a lot of pruning.
A French grown walnut that produces thick and easy to eat walnuts.
A Californian grown walnut that is small in size and it is pale in color.
A large sized California walnut that darkens after harvest.
A large sized walnut grown in France that is slow in fruition.
Another French grown walnut that is large in size and thicker shelled.
An average sized walnut, grown in California, and is paler in color once shelled.
Aside from just eating walnuts and reaping their benefits tenfold, there are actually other ways to enjoy incorporating walnuts into your everyday life. Walnut oil can be used topically to moisturize your skin when you use walnut oil topically. Walnut oil also helps get rid of dark circles under your eyes by simply applying lukewarm oil directly to the problem area. You can also make your own face mask made from literal walnuts.
According to Health Beckon,
“Blend 4 walnuts, two teaspoons oats, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon cream, and four drops of olive oil into a blender to make a good paste. Apply this evenly on the face and neck areas. Wash well with water.”
Walnuts also help hair to grow long and strong, so next time you are wanting to get longer, stronger locks, just pick up some walnut oil to apply to your scalp.
Maple Walnut Ice Cream Recipe
- 4 frozen bananas, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup walnut halves, for garnish
- Blend frozen banana chunks and maple syrup in a powerful blender until smooth, stir in walnut pieces.
- Pour mixture into a small metal loaf pan and freeze for at least 2 hours.
- Scoop and serve with extra walnut pieces on top as garnish.