Did you know that 1/4 cup of walnuts provides your daily recommended intake of plant-based omega 3s? Omega-3s are “essential” because our bodies need them, but we are unable to make them on our own…so we eat them! Think of them as the gateway drug to healthy eating and living. When our bodies get this nutritional gateway drug, our hormones become more balanced, our cells function more efficiently, inflammation decreases, and we are less likely to develop conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Here are a few more specific reasons you need to take these babies in…
- Antioxidants. They combat free radicals in your body. We want this to happen. Think of Karate Kid versus Cobra Kai. Walnuts are the Karate Kid (and Mr. Miyagi). Sensei, Johnny and Cobra Kai are the free radicals. Walnuts contain powerful antioxidants that do some pretty astounding things – they are the good peeps. Free radicals are no bueno and sweep the leg like no other, bad news bears. The choice here is obvious. Eat a handful.
- Heart health. Omega 3s reduce risk of heart disease and heart-related issues. Are you prone to hypertension, high cholesterol or heart disease? If you aren’t taking in Omega 3s, eating walnuts is one excellent way to increase its presence in the body and hence, benefit heart health. Note: I am a firm believer in getting your nutrients through food first and supplements only if your body is not absorbing them through food or you simply cannot find a food you enjoy enough that contains the nutrient. Food is the BEST method and in most cases, it is better absorbed!
- Brain power. In addition to Omega 3s, walnuts also contain other neuroprotective compounds like Vitamin E, melatonin and folate that help support brain health in young adults, and also helps enhance cognitive and motor function by reducing oxidative stress during the aging process. Think about all the cognitive diseases and scary things that can happen as we age.
- Blood Sugar. If you are concerned about your blood glucose levels, adding walnuts to your diet can be a great way to help lower those numbers. Studies have shown that diabetics who consumed 1/4 cup of walnuts per day in comparison to those who did not lowered their insulin levels significantly. What does that mean? It could mean less medication (or fighting the need to go on medication in the first place). Work on making these healthy changes now so you don’t have to hear your doctor’s spiel later.
- Cancer Fighters. Walnuts contain phytonutrients (juglone, tellimagrandin, and morin) that have shown to help fight off certain types of cancer – either via prevention mode or through inhibiting or slowing tumor growth. Walnuts are legit!
As a parting gift, I have included a pretty spicy recipe to add some zing to your tastebuds. If you don’t like walnuts as they are, you should definitely give this one a try.
- 2 cups raw walnuts
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a skillet over low heat.
Add maple syrup and stir until you achieve a syrupy consistency. Then add remaining ingredients and dissolve.
Add raw walnuts to skillet and evenly coat.
Spread mixture evenly into a single layer on a lined baking sheet.
Bake walnuts for 10 to 15 minutes.
Gently transfer parchment paper off of the baking sheet, and allow to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the parchment paper.
Store walnuts in an air-tight container.