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Health food of the month - Walnuts

March 2012  

Previous Health Foods of the Month...


Manuka honey




Diet & Supplements Index


walnutsMany people who say they really don’t eat nuts also mention that the one nut they quite like is the walnut.

Perhaps this is because their body recognises that walnuts provide some key nutrition, especially its particular form of vitamin E.

Life is becoming more and more complicated as we learn that even vitamins are not straightforward. Vitamin E for instance is usually found in an alpha-tocopherol form. However, it seems walnuts provide an unusually high level of vitamin E through a gamma-tocopherol form. Of course this is highly technical and complex, but it seems that studies on cardiovascular health, particular of men, show that this gamma-tocopherol type of vitamin E may provide significant protection from heart problems.

Easier to understand are the claims that walnuts can help decrease cholesterol and increase Omega-3 in red blood cells. Interestingly it seems that much of the nutritional benefits of walnuts are found in the skin - something that is often removed because it has a slightly bitter taste and its whitish waxy appearance is not particularly appealing. Yet evidently around 90% of the beneficial phenols found in walnuts are in the skin - these include important phenolic acids, tannins and flavonoids.

Some of the walnut’s beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients are not readily found in other foods. For instance, the phytonutrient quinine juglone is pretty well exclusive to walnuts.

One of the problems with nuts, including walnuts, is their high calorific content. General recommendations indicate one ounce of tree nuts per day is a good basic level for nutrition, yet one ounce of walnuts means about seven shelled walnuts, with all the calories that go with them.

The good news is that walnuts do have a nice flavour and there is unlikely to be a shortage of walnuts in the near future. They are readily grown across the world, with China and America producing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of walnuts every year.




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