Walnuts have a rich, exciting and long history dating back over 17,000 years. They are the oldest tree food known to man, with the first cultivation believed to be 7,000 years ago by the Neolithic people. This brain shaped superfood was once regarded as ‘Jupiter’s royal acorn’ and at one stage reserved for royalty alone. From then walnuts were commonly traded along the Silk route, and eventually through sea trade to ports around the world. Walnuts still remain quite popular and are now easily available for everyone to enjoy.
The health benefits of walnuts date back to Dioscorides and his fondly known Materia Medica. Many of Dioscorides well known health claims were repeated and added to for almost two thousand years following his notations.
Walnuts are rich in energy, rich in good fats and dense in nutrients.
Like all nuts, walnuts are well known for their fat or oil content. Walnuts contain about 65% fat by weight, and when eaten in appropriate amounts, provide the body with numerous heart, brain and hormone health benefits. Walnuts are richer than most other nuts in polyunsaturated fats, with the most abundant one being linoleic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid. In addition to linoleic acid, walnuts are the only nut that provides a significant amount of the omega-3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid. Whilst it is true that walnuts contain fat, it contains important fats that are needed for bodily functions, not fats to shy away from.
Whilst the oil content of walnuts makes them an excellent source of dietary anti-inflammatories, it is the antioxidant profile, as well as the vitamin E content that really add the kick to this superfood. Further to this, walnuts are rich in antioxidants, manganese, copper, molybdenum, biotin, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc. For these reasons, and a few more, walnuts are believed to be great for weight loss, sleep, hair health, heart health, blood sugar regulation, brain health, sperm health and stress.
See this month’s recipe for a great way to incorporate walnuts into your routine.