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The benefits of walnut, because of which you will love it.
Walnuts are the seeds of a walnut tree. The tree sprouts fleshy fruits with a green leathery outer layer known as the shell or husk. When the fruit is ripe, its shell breaks, exposing the hard brown shell that contains the kernel (also known as the seed) - this is the part you eat. Other parts of the fruit are usually discarded or used for industrial purposes, such as energy production.
Here is the nutritional profile of 14 halves of raw walnuts (about 28 grams).
* 185 calories
· 4 grams of protein
· 19 grams of fat
· 4 grams of carbohydrates
· 2 grams of fiber
· <1 gram of sugar
For your information, roasted walnuts or other processed forms of walnuts (for example, nut milk or flour) may have a different nutritional profile. For example, fried or unsalted nuts contain less fat and sodium than fried in salt or oil.
Health benefits of walnuts
Protection from diseases
The antioxidants in walnuts keep free radicals under control. This includes compounds such as polyphenols, vitamin E and catechin (which is also found in green tea). You see, free radicals are unstable molecules that in excess can cause cell damage or oxidative stress, which over time can lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
Controls blood sugar levels
Walnuts contain soluble fiber, one of the best nutrients for controlling blood sugar levels. As the name suggests, soluble fiber is soluble; it dissolves in water in the intestine, forming a gel-like substance that slows down the body's absorption of glucose, causing a more stable increase in blood sugar levels. This helps to control blood sugar levels and, in turn, prevents spikes in blood sugar levels, which, if they occur frequently, can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Brain Health Support
Besides the fact that they resemble tiny brains, walnuts can really benefit the brain. This is partly due to their impressive benefits for the heart; brain health, after all, depends on proper blood flow, which is controlled by the heart. Factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels can impair blood flow to the brain, leading to cognitive impairment. But since the heart-healthy nutrients in walnuts affect these factors, they can also protect the head.
The antioxidant properties of walnuts also help. In fact, when the brain is in a state of oxidative stress, it can lead to a decrease in cognitive functions. This is because over time, oxidative stress damages brain cells. But walnuts' antioxidants can reduce this oxidative damage, ultimately delaying or slowing the progression of cognitive decline.
You may be surprised to learn that walnuts contain melatonin, which can help you improve sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm or the body's internal biological clock. Melatonin levels naturally drop in the morning, forcing you to wake up. In the late afternoon, melatonin levels rise, which makes you feel sleepy and tired. Your pineal gland (a gland located in the brain) can produce melatonin by itself, but you can also get it from melatonin-containing foods such as walnuts. Simply put, eating walnuts can help boost melatonin levels and, in turn, help you get some sleep.
How to buy and use walnuts
In your supermarket you can find walnuts by weight or in portion packs. They also differ in preparation (raw / fried in dry form / fried in oil), seasonings (unsalted / salted / with spices) and shape (whole / halves / chopped).
Whole walnuts are available with or without a shell. As you probably guessed, walnuts without shells are very convenient. But without the protection of these shells, they can deteriorate quite quickly. This is due to the high content of unsaturated fats in nuts, which are easily destroyed when heated.
If peeling from the shell seems too time-consuming, choose peeled walnuts instead — just remember to store them properly to avoid premature spoilage. No matter what you choose, it's best to keep them in the refrigerator for use over the next month. However, packaged walnuts can be stored at room temperature until the "expiration date" if the container remains closed. After opening, store in an airtight container (for example, in an airtight glass jar) in the refrigerator. As a rule, peeled walnuts are stored for three to six months at room temperature (again, in a cool and dry place) or one year in the refrigerator. If you prefer to store them in the freezer, know that they should be stored for no more than two years.
And how do you know if your walnuts are fresh or spoiled?
Fresh ones should smell soft, nutty and somewhat earthy, while rancid ones have an "unpleasant" taste or sour smell, very similar to a paint thinner. Another telltale sign is visible mold.
Less commonly, walnuts are available in other forms, including walnut oil, milk or flour. Also known as flour or walnut powder, walnut flour — for example - can be used to make gluten-free pastries. However, walnut flour has a high moisture and fat content, so you may need to change other ingredients in the recipe. For best results, consider following a recipe specifically designed for walnut flour. Finally, walnuts are also available as an ingredient in packaged foods, including nut mixes, granola bars, and sweet treats. However, some finished products may be overloaded with sugar and salt, so if you are watching the consumption of a particular ingredient, be sure to check the product label first.
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