Walnuts

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 25. May. 2020
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Packed with tons of vitamins, protein, essential fatty acids and more, walnuts are a superfood that can help you look and feel your best.

walnuts

Walnuts...

  • ...boost your immune system. Walnuts are particularly high in ellagic acid. This secondary plant substance slows down free radicals and stimulates the immune system.
  • ...may strengthen the the nerves. Walnuts contain large amounts of various B vitamins that can help you to stay relaxed.
  • ...are packed with protein. With about 14 percent protein per 100 grams, walnuts are a great source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans, and they also provide healthy dietary fiber.
  • ...can help lower your cholesterol. If you regularly snack on walnuts you have a lesser chance of getting high cholesterol levels and in the long run can even lower an already increased level of harmful LDL cholesterol in your blood.
  • ...helps you looking young. The anti-aging vitamin E in walnuts is plentiful. This can prevent wrinkles, protect against premature aging and prevent damage to your cells by free radicals.
  • ...are heart-healthy. Of all nuts, walnuts offer the highest content of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep the heart and blood vessels fit and are also good for the gray matter areas of the brain.
  • ...are high in calories. If you're on a diet and want to lose weight, you'd better cut back on walnuts. The fat contained in them is super healthy, but still provides a lot of calories.

What You Should Know About Walnuts

The ancient Romans called walnuts “acorns of Jupiter.” From a purely botanical point of view, walnuts are fruits. For thousands of years, walnuts have been eaten pure and as a component of cakes and biscuits as well as in hot and cold dishes. This is at least as long as the extremely high-quality and delicious walnut oil has been pressed from walnuts.

Origins

The original home of the walnut lies in southern Europe, but also in Japan and China. Today, walnut trees grow practically all over the world; with California being the largest producer of walnuts.

Seasonality

Walnuts are in season almost all year. But, their peak season is in December.

Flavor

Walnuts taste nutty, slightly sweet and at the same time somewhat bitter.

Find all our walnut recipes here.

How Healthy Are Walnuts?

In ancient Rome, walnuts were believed to be able to heal the brain. This may have had something to do with the fact that the shell of walnuts looks like a human skull and the two halves of the nut are reminiscent of the two hemispheres of the brain. But this is not pure superstition.

Modern nutrition experts confirm that walnuts are a true brain food, because they are full of valuable nutrients that specifically keep your brain and nerves healthy. For example, walnuts can improve your memory and concentration. Whether they can also help with dementia and Alzheimer's disease is still being researched, but animal experiments indicate that they might be able to

The fact that nuts also contain considerable amounts of fat does not detract from their health value. On the contrary, they contain mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which the body urgently needs in order to function properly. Depending on whether they are fresh or dried, walnuts have a 42 to 70 percent fat content, made up of important omega-3 fatty acids. 

It is clear that people not wanting to gain weight should keep an eye on their nut intake because of the high fat content, but it is also true that walnuts can help you lose weight in small quantities. Researchers proved that after only five days consuming 50 grams of walnuts as a snack, overweight test persons found that their craving for sweets and their excessive appetite had decreased.

Many nutrition experts even expressly recommend the consumption of walnuts when cholesterol levels are high: one study showed that regular consumption reduces cholesterol levels and thus reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

In addition, walnuts are a good source of vitamin E, which protects fats from spoiling, even within the body and thus prevents disorders in fat metabolism. 

Last but not least, walnuts fight wrinkles because of their high content of vitamin E, as well as secondary plant substances (especially ellagic acid) slows down free radicals and thus protects your cells from premature aging.

Walnuts are among the fruits with the highest content of serotonin, a nerve-active protein substance that can trigger migraines in sensitive people.

Due to the high content of nut oil, walnuts can quickly become rancid after peeling. Some companies therefore treat them with an antioxidant (BHA, E 320), but this must be stated on the packaging. However, customers usually don't find out about this if walnuts are bought in bulk.

Walnut Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 723
Protein 16 g
Fat 70 g
Carbohydrates 6 g
Fiber 4.6 g


Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

Pay attention to the quality of packed walnuts: with branded goods you can generally be sure that the nuts are low in residue. If you want to be absolutely sure, it is best to buy from an organic retailer.

Important with walnuts: they should be evenly light in color and not look "wrinkled."

Storage

Because of their high oil content, walnuts should be kept in a place that’s dark and cool, but not in the refrigerator. For packaged walnuts, you can check the best-before date; for nuts sold in bulk, ask the retailer for the maximum recommended storage period.

Preparation

Organic walnuts can have traces of mold appear during cracking, which you should throw away. You should also dispose of very shrunk, dry, dark or even black walnuts.

For coarse or fine chopping of walnuts, you can use a large knife or blender.

If the recipe calls for ground walnuts, a blender is also a good choice. If you don't have one, you can also grate the kernels finely on a kitchen grater.

What To Make With Walnuts

Walnuts are a wonderful way to spice up salads, vegetable dishes and desserts: Just chop them and sprinkle them over the top, and they'll have more flavor and some valuable extra nutrients.

By the way: The whitish yellow seed skin of walnuts tastes slightly bitter. If you don't like that, you can remove the skin with a trick: Briefly boil water over the peeled seeds, immediately rinse with cold water, drain well and then wipe the skin off.

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