If you're not already eating walnuts, it's time to consider adding them to you diet. "Walnuts really are a super food," says nutritionist Michelle Dudash. As well as containing good fats and polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, they're packed with fibre, protein, and other nutrients that help with specific functions in the body.
Here are four health benefits of eating walnuts, and easy ways to add them to your diet.
1. Helps you sleep
If you're having trouble sleeping, snack on a few walnuts before bed. According to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center, walnuts contain melatonin, a chemical that helps regulate your body clock and causes you to feel sleepy at night.
2. Lowers anxiety and depression
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are widely documented – helping to reduce inflammation, improve heart health and lower anxiety and depression. If you're not keen on fish, try walnuts. They are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating walnuts may provide almost instant cardiovascular benefits. Scientists at Penn State University in Pennsylvania reported 'significant' improvement in cholesterol levels and blood vessel flexibility, which helps blood flow smoothly, just four hours after people ate walnuts. Better blood flow isn't just good for your heart, it's also good for virility. The Romans were said to use walnuts as a libido booster, and would scatter them over marrying couples.
4. May help you lose weight
Two handfuls of walnuts contain around 650 calories, so you need to be careful if you're watching your figure. Having said that, new research has shown that eating walnuts may help you lose weight.
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that a diet containing walnuts had similar weight loss effects to a lower fat, higher-carbohydrate diet.
"One of the surprising findings of this study was that even though walnuts are higher in fat and calories, the walnut-rich diet was associated with the same degree of weight loss as a lower fat diet," said lead researcher, Dr. Rock of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
Not only that, but according to nutritionist Michelle Dudash, the body absorbs 20% fewer calories than the amount stated on the back of the walnut label.
Get more walnuts in your diet
You can eat them by the handful of course, but if that gets a bit boring, here are three ways to sneak more walnuts into your diet.
Breakfast tortilla filled with walnut butter, fruit and honey: Take a whole-grain tortilla and heat a sauté pan or skillet. Spread three tablespoons of walnut butter over half of the tortilla and place pear and apple slices on top. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Fold tortilla in half, place in pan and cook until lightly golden.
Chicken tenders made with walnuts in the breadcrumbs: Coat strips of chicken with a breadcrumb and walnut mix. To make, blitz walnuts, flour, paprika, dry mustard, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper in a food processor until reduced to a powder. Drizzle in some oil, then transfer to a dish and mix in some breadcrumbs. Coat the chicken strips in egg then cover with the mix before cooking.
Walnut pesto sauce: Coarsely chop walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, then add basil leaves, salt, and pepper and process until mixture resembles a paste. With the processor still running, slowly add the olive and parmesan cheese, until the pesto is thoroughly blended.
You can find the recipes in full here.
Three products to make healthy eating easier and more fun:
Brass nutcrackers, £35.00
Kenwood FPP225 Multipro Food Processor, £49.99
Tesco Walnut Oil 250Ml, £1.60