Friday, January 22, 2010

Walnuts for a good night sleep?

I’m a big nut lover (keep it clean, people). In all seriousness, I love nuts: They have a wonderful taste that makes most dishes robust and flavorful. Nuts, in general, are wonderful for your health. And, if you are a vegetarian, are a great source of protein. This season, enjoy the powerful little nugget, as they offer tons of benefits:
  1. Omega-3 Dense: Although walnuts are also high in Omega-6s, one serving provides almost 91% of your daily value for Omega-3 essential fatty acids. This is important because our body can’t manufacture essential fatty acids on their own. Omega-3s are known to protect our heart, promote cognitive function and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
  2. Immune Booster: Due to its containing ellagic acid, an antioxidant, walnuts are wonderful in supporting the immune system.
  3. Decreases Cholesterol Levels: Due to their high content of monounsaturated fats, walnuts may be helpful in reducing cholesterol and as a result, can potentially reduce risk for cardiovascular disease.
  4. Supports Healthy Sleep: Walnuts contain melatonin in bio-available form, which is helpful in promoting a good night sleep.
  5. Increased Bone Health: Omega-3s help to prevent excessive bone loss, while the protein in the walnuts help to build muscle. Those with more muscle tend to have stronger bones than those who don’t.
  6. Weight Management: Studies have shown that those who eat nuts at least twice a week are less likely to gain weight than those who never or almost never do.

Ways to Enjoy Your Walnuts:

Walnuts are still high in fat, so a little goes a long way (a recommended serving size is 1/4 cup). Try them in:

  1. Oatmeal: Round out a bowl of oatmeal with one-quarter cup of walnuts, some fruit and a dusting of sucanat for a delicious start to your day.
  2. Salads: Salads can be a meal if you dress it right. Mix spinach, 2 oz. grilled chicken, red onion, fat-free feta, 1/8 cup of walnuts, 1/8 cup of raisins, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a tasty and filling salad.
  3. Chicken Salad: Take a grilled chicken breast and dice it up. Mix with a tablespoon of fat-free plain greek yogurt, 1/4 cup of apples (diced) and 1/8 cup of chopped walnuts. Salt and pepper to taste for a yummy chicken salad.
  4. Mid-Day Snack: Pair an apple with one-quarter cup of walnuts.
  5. Dessert: Bake an apple pie with walnuts in the filling; or add to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Do you have any favorite ways to enjoy walnuts?

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