Once reserved only for royalties and people from the higher class, it is not a surprise that the walnut – amazingly delicious and packed full of goodies seed, is one of the best known and loved nuts in the world today.
It is not certain where the walnut originated from. Archeologists assume it might have come from Ancient Persia, though signs of people using walnuts have been spotted as far as the Himalayas and into Turkey, Italy, and Switzerland. The botanical name of the walnut tree is Juglans Regia and it comes from the ancient Romans, meaning “The royal acorn of Jupiter” – very fancy, wouldn’t you say?! In Afghanistan, it is called Charmarghz (four brains) since walnuts resemble a human brain.
The most common types of walnuts around the world are the English walnut (that comes from ancient Persia, but was made known around the world by English merchants, hens the name) and the black walnut – indigenous to North America.
In a 100g of serving there is 654 kcal. Walnuts contain a rich variety of healthy goods like antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They are also an amazing source of monounsaturated fatty acid, phosphorus, Vitamin B, and manganese. The walnut oil is particularly interesting because it is largely composed of polyunsaturated fatty acid that can be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Around the world
Walnuts are extremely versatile with their culinary uses as they can be eaten raw, roasted, with salty or sweet dishes and even pickled. For example, in Iran, they use walnuts to prepare a dish called Khoresh-e Fesenjān – a stew made with pomegranate syrup and grounded walnuts. In Turkey, walnuts are added to a lot of sweet desserts, including Halva and Baklava. They are also an irreplaceable ingredient in the famous Mediterranean diet. In France, they like to cover roasted walnut in cocoa butter and cocoa for a delicious and delicate sweet snack. In Syria, a dish called Muhammara is prepared with Aleppo peppers, grounded walnuts, olive oil, and breadcrumbs. It is an amazingly tasty spread for all the spicy food lovers. Walnuts are a must-have on Bulgarian tables during New Year. It is an old tradition to break a walnut in order to see what the upcoming year would look like.
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Walnuts have also been the base in inks and dyes. The husk from a black walnut was once utilized to produce ink for writing. Great artist like Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci have been known to apply such ink into the drawing. Walnut oil was also commonly used by the Renaissance painters because of its short drying period and lack of yellow tint. In ancient Rome, they used a brown dye to color textiles. In Medieval times it was used to dye hair, something that is still practiced to this day. In Romani culture, the walnut ink was utilized to mark the hands of criminals, as it was impossible to wash out and stains the skin for long periods of time. In China, it was a symbol of status to hold a pair of walnuts in one’s hand, so they were considered an investment. Also by rotating and playing with them, the walnuts helped with blood circulation.
- Walnuts keep your heart healthy
In order to reduce the possibility of a cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke, it is important to keep a low level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that the walnuts contain have been shown to decrease the bad cholesterol.
During a study, 18 healthy men followed two different dietary regimes, each during the period of 4 weeks. Both diets contained identical foods, except that 20% from one of the diets were based on walnut consumption. It was concluded that including walnuts does have an impact on the serum levels of the total cholesterol.
- Walnuts make our bones strong
The essential fatty acids that the walnut has, promotes healthier and stronger bones. This is because they increase calcium absorption; reduce urinary calcium excretion and better the structure of the bones, thanks to the ability to enhance collagen synthesis.
- Walnuts could help in preventing cancer
Walnuts contain several very rare compounds that are known for their cancer-preventing properties.
“Several animal studies show that including walnuts in the diet slows or prevents the growth of breast and prostate cancers. The addition of walnuts to your plate is a good cancer preventive measure.”
– Lauri Byerley, Ph.D., LSU Health New Orleans
- Walnuts boost your metabolism
Adding walnuts to your diet can have a positive impact on your metabolism and overall boost your health if properly combined with other whole foods from plants like raspberries, cherries or green tea.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that combining walnuts with the dietary regime of mice that were fed an unhealthy diet high in sugars and fats, had a substantial impact on their metabolism.
- Walnuts fights fungal infections
Black walnuts have the ability to treat fungal and yeast infections thanks to the high amounts of juglone and phytochemicals they contain mostly in their green husk.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research has shown that by creating an ethanol extract by using the leaves of black walnut to “attack” microorganisms, including Candida albicas – the researchers could determine that the ethanol successfully could inhibit the microorganisms.
- Walnuts are a perfect snack for pregnant women
Walnuts are full of healthy vitamins, riboflavin, and Omega- 3 fatty acids and are exactly what a pregnant woman could need because they play a role in developing the baby’s nervous system, vision, and even IQ. The copper, fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium are all needed for growing a healthy baby. Plus walnuts are a considered to be helpful in case of postpartum depressions.
- Walnuts are helping you sleep
Melatonin is a chemical that is secreted by the pineal gland of the brain and is responsible for your drowsiness at night. It is also naturally occurring in walnuts, so eating a few might be a good idea before you go to bed if you have a problem falling asleep.
- Walnuts are amazing for your skin
Walnut oil is an amazing moisturizer because it keeps your skin nourished, glowing and plump. Plus the fats in the walnut attract moisture from the air and keep it locked in the skin. It could also help with dark circles under your eyes and even wrinkles.
- Walnuts are full of antioxidants
Walnuts are an amazing source of antioxidants. According to a research walnut polyphenols (phytochemicals with antioxidant properties) might prevent a chemically induced damage (by carbon tetrachloride and d-galactosamine) to the liver.
10. Walnuts help your hair too
If you want longer, thicker and healthier hair walnuts are here for you. Not only internally, but also applied externally in the form of an oil, walnuts can have a great overall effect on your hair thanks to the potassium, omega- 3, omega- 6 and omega-9. Walnuts leaves are also a natural way to add some color to your hair, pretty easy with a great result.