Walnuts - what a nut !
As a child growing up in Pune (India), every summer we looked forward to two frail women, who would come in our neighborhood with gigantic cloth bags on their backs. They would sell fresh walnuts from the valley of Kashmir. An old bed sheet would hold all the walnuts and all four corners were pulled together to make a bag that was hauled on their backs. Cheerfully they would tell us about how good the harvest was that year and how they picked the best of walnuts for us. You will never find such tasty walnuts anywhere in the world , they claimed. Those illiterate women had mastered the art of selling without attending any top management schools.
My mother would buy a year's supply of in-shell-walnuts and stored it carefully. My mother insisted that eating a couple of walnuts before an exam was very lucky. My siblings and I were given the lucky walnuts during exam days. The luck factor about the walnuts was very convincing for us to gobble them down before rushing to exams. She knew that if she gave a lecture about how good the walnuts were for our health or the perfect brain food, it would be a wasted effort.
Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E. Nuts in general are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 fatty acids - the good fats) that have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. Walnuts, in particular, have significantly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids as compared to other nuts. More than a decade of scientific evidence shows that incorporating walnuts in a healthy diet reduces the risk of heart disease by improving blood vessel elasticity and plaque accumulation. Walnuts have also been shown to aid in the lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and the C-Reactive Protein (CRP). CRP was recently recognized as an independent marker and predictor of heart disease.
Nuts in general are high in calories, so moderation is the key. The best approach is to reap the health benefits of eating walnuts but not add excessive calories to your daily intake. Therefore, instead of just adding walnuts to your current diet, eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats (such as cheese and meat) and limit your intake of these tasty treats to about 8-10 walnut halves.
Here are three of my
favorite walnut recipes
Perfect Protein relish
This is a perfect high protein spread for vegetarian sandwiches. Frozen Edamame beans are available in the frozen section of any grocery store. Edamame beans are tender soy beans, which very high in protein too.
My gourmet friend Karen Kim serves this elegant Waldorf salad in Belgian Endives for her annual Christmas party. I find it an interesting way to enjoy a salad.