By now you know that I’m a fan of walnuts. What with my post about interesting walnut facts, walnut pesto, dinner with walnuts, and how walnuts are harvested, you probably think that walnuts are the only nut I eat (not true)! I could go on for a few more blog posts about walnuts and my time at the walnut harvest festival, but I’ll make this my last post on the subject (at least for now). After all, this is a nutrition blog, so I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the nutritional benefits of this superstar nut, also known as a superfood!
- are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. One ounce of of walnuts (~12-14 halves) contains 2.6 grams of ALA (more than any other nut).
- contain 4 g protein and 2 g fiber (8% of the recommended daily intake) per ounce.
- are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E and selenium. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, walnuts are second to blackberries in antioxidants.
- are linked to improved vascular function, decreased total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, decreased inflammation, cognitive benefits, and improved heart health.
Walnut Nutrition Facts (per 1 oz* raw): 190 calories, 18 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 13 g polyunsaturated fat of which 2.6 g are alpha-linolenic acid), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein, 125 mg potassium, 30 mg calcium, 5% iron, 11% magnesium
*1 oz walnuts = 1/4 cup shelled halves or pieces = 14 halves
As you can see, one ounce of walnuts at a time costs you a lot of calories, so you don’t need to eat a whole ounce at once. I recommend eating about 5 to 7 walnut halves (or 2 tablespoons pieces) at a time combined with a piece of fruit or a yogurt for a balanced snack. Here are some other ideas of how to enjoy walnuts:
- Top oatmeal with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- Add walnuts to a yogurt and fruit parfait (lower in sugar than granola)
- Add toasted walnuts to a salad
- Toss walnuts into quinoa or wild rice as a side dish
- Caramelize walnuts and add to a cheese plate
One more tip: Store your shelled walnuts in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the loss of the healthy oils. Unopened packages are good to eat for a year, opened packages will keep for up to 6 months.
You can find many more ideas and recipes on the California Walnuts website.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy walnuts?
*Opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and I have not been compensated by anyone for this post.