Walnuts Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Which Nut has the most Health Benefits?

Pecan or macadamia, Italian or Californian, French or Brazilian, you are spoiled for choice. How to best enhance the personality of each type of walnut on the table.

Talking about walnuts in Italy is like getting on an elevator: national productions go down (we fell to fifth place in Europe), consumption goes up, growing year on year and reaching 52 thousand tons per year. Today, Italians spend over 625 million euros a year to buy these fruits. 

“Made in Italy” walnuts remain popular but, according to Nucis Italia data , they meet just a quarter of demand and for this reason they have to share the market with those arriving from many other countries: from Australian macadamias to American pecans, from Brazil nutsto the Chilean ones, from the French ones to the South African ones, for those who love the touch that these fruits can give to each dish (and their healthy value) a world of flavors and suggestions opens up , to be enhanced in the kitchen.

Macadamia

Native to subtropical climate areas, they were discovered in Australia by John Macadam whose name they bear and are now grown mainly in Hawaii. Also called “Queensland nuts”, they are considered among the finest fruits in the world for their distinctive taste. They require special processing. 

After a first slow drying the shell is opened to extract the round and regular fruit. The macadamia is then toasted, without the addition of oil, and only slightly salted to maintain the characteristic sweet and delicate taste, which becomes more intense if they are toasted. Naturally creamy, macadamias are ideal in ice cream, desserts, but also in breading and soups. They are perfect to use in pesto instead of pine nuts, and to grate on boiled green beans.

Brazilian nuts

They are the seed of the “castanheira” a huge evergreen tree that grows spontaneously in the Amazon rain forest and are contained in a fruit similar to a coconut. They are particularly rich in selenium, a trace element with antioxidant function. Only one Brazilian nut covers the daily requirement of this mineral. 

Brazilian nuts have an unusual taste, similar to that of coconut, which makes them ideal in fruit salads, in citrus-based recipes, in green salads and as an accompaniment to blue cheeses, like Gorgonzola. But where they give their best is dip in melted chocolate. Thanks to their creaminess, they can be the basis for excellent soft and medium-hard vegetable “cheeses”. A simple trick to remove the particularly hard shell is to put them in the oven for about fifteen minutes or put them in the freezer: with the change in temperature they will easily come out.

Pecan Nuts

The pecan tree is similar to that of the walnut and is widely cultivated both in the Mediterranean area, as well as in Africa and the Americas. Today the largest producers of pecans are the United States, so much so that these fruits are often called “American nuts”. Pecans, elongated and reddish, have a distinct and particular taste (reminiscent of chestnuts) and can be eaten both raw and toasted. If fried in oil, cooking must be very fast: 1-2 minutes at 150 ° C. “Buttery” as they are, they are the most suitable for delicious American pastry recipes, such as muffins, brownies and pies, especially when paired with Chocolate Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer.

But they are also delicious minced escalope’s in butter, steamed broccoli and boiled spinach, and their intense flavor is enhanced in pumpkin-based recipes and desserts prepared with nectarines. Since their fats have a composition similar to those of olive oil, due to the high content of oleic and linoleic acid, they are a perfect snack for sportsmen and can be used in a super natural supplement to be prepared by mixing 2 pecans with 2 tablespoons respectively of pollen, royal jelly, honey and 4 drops of propolis tincture.

California nuts

In recent years they have become increasingly popular, also in Italy. There are several varieties: among the most popular are the Hartley, with a thin shell, light-colored kernel and intense flavor, and the Chandler, with a particularly large kernel (it represents half the weight of a walnut). 

Try it on risotto, stuffed turkey, sole fillets, as well as the classic Caesar’s Salad and salads with fennel, goji berries and pomegranate. An excellent idea is to add them to juices and smoothies based on carrots, apricots or pumpkin because, in addition to giving a pleasant sour note, they increase (up to triple it) the bioavailability of beta – carotene. The typical antioxidant of orange fruit and vegetables.

Sorrento

Walnuts Oblong and tapered, they are among the most appreciated for their particularly delicate flavor and high yield, dictated by the fact that the shell is thin and the pulp is voluminous. They are the best for pastry because the kernel is not very oily, it is easily extracted and remains intact and crunchy: so it is perfect for garnishing cakes and desserts. 

Tender and crunchy, these walnuts with a long-lasting flavor are excellent in sauces and pestos, they are delicious additions to white yogurt (especially Greek yogurt) and to breakfast cereals. A trick to remove the “veil” that covers the kernels? Just dip them in boiling water for a few moments and then rub them with a cloth.

Noix de Grenoble

The flagship of France is the prized Noix de Grenoble, which for over 20 years has obtained the DOP (protected designation of origin). Large (28-34 mm) and with clear and tasty kernels, it is also very popular in Italy, so much so that we are the first importer in Europe. The fruity taste and the typical aroma of fresh bread make them special accompanied with pears and Roquefort, or with endive and Camembert.

How to make the right purchase?

The best walnuts are the fresh ones, because over time the fats in which these fruits are rich quickly turn rancid: they can be recognized by the absence of lesions on the shell, by the heaviness and, if possible, by the petiole and leaves. Attached. Dark spots on the husk are also a sign of quality, as they indicate that the nuts have not been chemically bleached. 

The great success that walnuts have been enjoying for some years has prompted supermarkets to increase their assortment. So today you can choose between different versions. The nuts to the natural are preserved for a long time because, having a low content of water (about 6% against 70-90% of common fruit), are hardly attacked by pathogenic microorganisms. 

Once the bag has been opened, they must be stored in a cool and dry place. Even vacuum- packed walnuts last a long time (up to 12 months), because this method of preservation prevents the proliferation of molds and aerobic bacteria and avoids the rancidity of the fats in which the walnut is rich, which would cause the deterioration of its organoleptic characteristics Walnuts Nutrition Facts

More delicate are the shelled walnuts, because they run a greater risk of oxidation. Once opened, it is good to put the nuts in an airtight jar to prevent them from going rancid in contact with the air.

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