Sunday, October 23, 2011

Health Nuts

Reduce some of the guilt that comes with holiday goodies by adding walnuts to your baked goods and casseroles. Walnuts not only taste great but are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of those hard to find omega-3 fatty acids. Like most nuts, they can easily be added to your favorite recipes, and even your favorite breakfast cereals.
Approximately 90% of the phenols in walnuts are found in the skin, including key phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids, so leave the skins on! Phytonutrient research on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of walnuts has moved this food further and further up the ladder of foods that are protective against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers - including prostate cancer and breast cancer. Some phytonutrients found in walnuts - for example, the quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin or the flavonol morin - are found in virtually no other commonly-eaten foods, and are valuable as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Walnuts contain a significant amount of folate, B6, manganese, copper, phosphorous and fiber; almost 1/3 of the daily value per one cup serving. The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is somewhat unusual, and particularly beneficial. A final fascinating aspect of walnuts and their potential health benefits involves melatonin (MLT). MLT is a widely-active messaging molecule in our nervous system, and very hormone-like in its regulatory properties. MLT is critical in the regulation of sleep, daily (circadian) rhythms, light-dark adjustment, and other processes.
Shelled walnuts are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins.When buying in bulk, make sure that the bins containing the walnuts are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, walnuts are extremely perishable. Shelled walnuts should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator, where they will keep for six months, or the freezer, where they will last for one year. Unshelled walnuts should preferably be stored in the refrigerator, although as long as you keep them in a cool, dry, dark place they will stay fresh for up to six months.
Beware, a one cup serving also packs a whopping 765 calories! Treats are still a treat, even with the nutritional benefits.
~ USDA, 2011

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