Walnuts have been around forever, but it's only over the past year that I started to add a half ounce to an ounce of them to my daily diet. I heard about a few healthy benefits from different sources, but it was Dr. Mehmet Oz. (Dr. Oz) who made the strongest case for adding walnuts for a healthy diet. (I have learned more from Dr. Oz in five minutes, than I have from my own Dr. in over ten years, and his advice is free!) Here are eight reasons why I add walnuts to my daily, healthy diet.
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Of all nuts, walnuts contain the most alphalinolenic omega-3 fatty acids which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and may reduce inflammation in the arteries.
2. Antioxidants- Walnuts are a source of antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium and zinc.
3. Filling- According to Dr. Oz, if you eat a little fat twenty minutes before your meal (70-100 or so calories in the form of six walnut halves, which is one half ounce) you'll stimulate the production of CCK (cholecystokinin). Dr. Oz suggests thinking of CKK as the "Crucial Craving Killer." Once CCK is produced, it communicates with your brain and slows your stomach from emptying and feeling full. (I find this holds true by eating the walnuts for mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks.) I just started counting calories to (slowly) lose weight and even an ounce of walnuts (200 calories) fits into my healthy diet easily.
4. Shiny hair-The omega 3 fatty acids in walnuts help to condition hair, making it shiny. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair shedding; a daily dose of walnuts (which contain zinc) may help.
5. All Natural- Walnuts are an all natural, whole food. For those of us not allergic to walnuts, our bodies know to digest a few walnuts much better than a processed food.
6. Convenient- Walnuts are a great snack for people on the go. About 6 walnut halves or a small handful is one half ounce (100 calories). It's a tiny snack that fits right in my hand-bag.
7. Inexpensive-Although walnuts are available everywhere, discount stores like Ocean State Job Lot sell a 16 ounce bag of Mariani Walnuts for $4.99. At an ounce a day, that's over a two week supply of walnuts, and at a half ounce a day, that's over a month's worth of walnuts for a mere $5 bucks.
8. Delicious-Walnuts are tasty and compliment many healthy foods like hot cereals, yogurt and fruits. I enjoy walnuts with a banana or apple. I have a tasty, easy crock-pot recipe for turkey breast over wild rice drizzled with real maple syrup and about 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. If I am taking the kids to McDonald's, I plan ahead and throw a half an ounce of walnuts and some dried cherries in a little baggie to add to my salad. I feel full and satisfied and haven't reached for one of their McNuggets yet! Just yesterday (as a treat) I had my walnuts with some semi-sweet chocolate chips. Delish.