Nutrition: Why Walnuts Are Good For You, by Julie Daniluk

I was traveling recently giving an omega-3 talk in the Niagara region of Ontario and happened to find a wild walnut tree that was dropping its seeds. It was a wonderful moment where you realize the abundance of the world around you. I love wild foods and in my excitement of the find I said, “You can’t get more organic than foraging!” I need to qualify that statement as foraging food is only as healthy as the area in which the food grows in. I am a big believer in the benefits of certified organic food as it is process that ensures the land where the plants are grown does not contain any toxic chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For more information about organics, check out www.organicweek.ca or my recent blog.

Here are five great reasons to eat more organic walnuts:

Walnuts provide a particularly rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, a natural plant source of omega-3, and monounsaturated fatty acids. Both of these fats lower LDL “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

Walnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, especially rich in gamma-tocopherol; contain about 21 g per 100 g (about 140% of daily-required levels). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

Scientists at University of Scranton, Pennsylvania reports that walnuts have highest levels of phenolic antioxidants than any other common edible nuts, and 100 g of walnuts contain 13541 µmol TE (Trolex equivalents) of oxidant radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Eating as few as six to seven average size nuts a day could help scavenge disease causing free radicals from the body.

Walnuts bust stress! These nuts are packed with vitamin B-complex including riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folate. They also very are rich in repair minerals like manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and selenium. Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation and immunity. Manganese helps with collagen synthesis and magnesium reduces muscle pain.

So go enjoy more walnuts this season! For a great walnut recipe, check out my Anti-Inflammatory Lentil Dip in Meals That Heal Inflammation.

Julie Daniluk, RHN, hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition by using unique groups such as bikers, dragon boat racers and ballroom dancers to challenge their taste buds with nutritious foods. Julie is excited that her show was chosen to be part of OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network). Similar to Oprah’s book club, programs on OWN explore stories of strength and transformation. Television viewers also recognize Julie from her “busted” segments on The Right Fit (W Network) and The Marilyn Dennis Show (CTV) where she examines the foods people need to stay healthy, acting as a nutrition encyclopedia. Her fun and engaging style comes in handy when she creates a recipe a week that is packed with health tips for www.chatelaine.com. Her new book Meals That Heal Inflammation is available in stores now.