Diane’s Dish On…Walnuts

Here's a look at some of the health benefits of walnuts, tips for cooking with it, and other fun facts
Diane's Dish On: Walnuts

On this weeks episode Diane Henderiks talks about the flavor value and health benefits of the walnut.

pesto

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Diane's Walnut Pesto.

The benefits of walnuts, which are a nutrient-dense food, were among the first approved qualified health claims by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a whole food for their positive effect on heart health. In addition to offering a range of wellness benefits, walnuts are great partners in the kitchen – they truly are the hardest working nut!

Nutrition Noshes

  • Walnuts are the only nut — and one of the few foods — that provide an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid with 2.5 grams in a one ounce serving.
  • An ounce of walnuts provides a convenient source of protein (4 grams) and fiber (2 grams).
  • Walnuts are also a good source of magnesium and phosphorus.
  • Walnuts contain many antioxidants and are naturally sodium-, cholesterol-, and gluten-free.
  • Over 20 years of research has shown how walnuts may benefit heart health, diabetes, cancer, cognition, fertility, and weight management. 

Culinary Corner

  • Walnuts are a great way to boost the health benefits you get from meals and snacks.
  • Walnuts can add flavor, crunch, and depth to any meal.
  • While they’re great for baking and sweet recipes, the mild flavor and soft texture of walnuts make them a delicious ingredient for savory dishes as well.
  • Some delicious ways to use walnuts are as a topping for salad, incorporated into vegetable dishes, and as a coating for fish.
  • Experiment with roasting walnuts and seasoning them with different herbs and spices.

How to Toast Walnuts

  • Spread chopped walnuts — either dry or with a dash of oil — evenly onto a baking sheet or in a shallow pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Stir several times for even toasting and keep an eye on them — they burn easily.
  • Cool before using.

Fun Facts

  • Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, dating back to 7000 B.C.
  • California produces 99 percent of the walnuts grown in the United States.
  • The Romans called walnuts Juglans regia, “Jupiter’s royal acorn.”
  • There are over 4,000 walnut growers in California and most of these farms are owned and operated by families who have been in the walnut business for over a century, across several generations.
  • In early trade, English merchant marines transported walnuts to ports around the world and they became known as “English Walnuts.” (England, in fact, never grew walnuts commercially.)

For Diane's Walnut Pesto recipe, click here.

Diane Henderiks is a personal chef and culinary nutritionist on a mission to teach America how to cook and eat well. Follow her on Twitter @dhenderiks, "Like" Diane on Facebook, or visit her website.