Walnuts: the king of nuts

Walnuts with leaf.

It’s the Queen’s 90th birthday this week… so let’s celebrate another kind of royalty, the walnut – the King of Nuts. 

The humble walnut gets its fancy moniker from its latin name juglans regia, but also because they are packed with health-giving properties – clinical tests have shown they can help alleviate symptoms of or protect against a number of illnesses, including Parkinson’s Disease, cardiovascular problems and cancer.

The reason walnuts can do this is because they are packed with antioxidants that can help prevent disease and slow down aging – some studies show that a handful of walnuts can have more antioxidant power than your five a day.

That same handful is high in good fats, with up to 60 per  cent of an adult’s consumption of mono and polyunsaturated fats coming in that same handful.

Recent studies into walnut consumption show the benefits of eating them, with one in Spain even demonstrating that those who eat a diet rich in a-linolenic acid (a constituent of walnuts) had a reduced risk of death from any cause by a huge 28 per cent.

All those food fats mean walnuts are energy dense – that handful also contains around 230 calories but studies have also shown that as part of a controlled diets, people have not only lost weight but also have better levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.

 Walnuts are also contain high levels of vitamin E which is great for healthy skin, eyes and strengthening the immune system – this is great for most of us, but vitamin E acts a blood thinner and anyone taking warfarin should seek medical advice before eating too many.

I’m not a fan of the term superfood, but if one food deserves it, it’s the walnut.