Wellness Club — Enjoy Walnuts for American Heart Month

Wellness Club — Enjoy Walnuts for American Heart Month
Abingdon, VA. - Monday, Feb 1, 2021.

Written by: Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN, Food City Registered Dietitian

It’s that time again! February is American Heart Month! 

It’s the perfect time to eat more walnuts which support heart health. Eating walnuts may positively affect various factors related to heart health including cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation. In addition, research has explored their potential benefits on cognitive function, gut health, and reproductive health as well as their role in reducing risk of diabetes and certain types of cancers. 

Did you know that walnuts are the only nut that’s an excellent source of an omega-3 fatty acid (2.5g/oz) called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is an essential fatty acid that plays a role in many body processes including fighting inflammation to reduce risk of chronic disease. Plus, just one ounce of walnuts also provides 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Talk about a nutrient-boost! A serving of walnuts is equivalent to one ounce which is about ¼ cup, 12-14 halves, or a small handful.

Where do we get walnuts? Walnuts are harvested in California August through November and stored in the cold to maintain freshness all year long. It’s best to store walnuts in the cold at home as well. Place in a sealed bag in your refrigerator or freezer. Since walnuts can absorb flavors from other foods, try to keep them away from strong smelling foods like fish, cabbage, or onions. 

Walnuts are also versatile and can be enjoyed in lots of different ways. Of course, walnuts are delicious on their own as a healthy snack. You can also add walnuts to oatmeal or cereal for an added crunch. Toast walnuts and add to the top of a salads; grind or chop them and add them to baked goods for extra protein and nutrients. Ground walnuts can also be mixed with lean ground meat or poultry to make healthier meat balls or meatloaf. For a plant-based meat alternative, puree walnuts with cauliflower and use as a tasty filling in tacos or in a burrito bowl. Walnuts pair well with a variety of foods from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses, so grab a handful today!