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Wonderful walnuts are great tasting and heart healthy

By Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN
 • Feb 26, 2020 at 4:30 PM

It’s American Heart Month!

Looking for a way to support your heart but don’t like fish? Walnuts are the only nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid is critical to many body processes, including anti-inflammation, which helps to reduce risk of chronic diseases.

Walnuts support heart health by affecting cholesterol, specifically lowering the amount of bad cholesterol while increasing the amount of good cholesterol and having a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Just one ounce of walnuts also provides 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Talk about a nutrient boost!

Walnuts are harvested in California August through November and stored in the cold to maintain freshness all year long. When you bring walnuts home from the store, it is best to keep them in the cold as well. Place in a sealed bag in your refrigerator or freezer depending on when you are going to use them. If you are eating them right away, keep in the fridge. If you are storing for a month or more, keep them in the freezer. Since walnuts can absorb flavors from other foods, try to keep them away from strong odorous foods like fish, cabbage or onions.

Buying shelled walnuts can be a great tip to keep the freshness lasting longer. Wait to shell your walnuts until you are ready to eat. Grinding walnuts to add to recipes should also be done right before using them. This will help to maintain their flavor.

There are many ways to enjoy walnuts as well. Of course, walnuts are delicious on their own as a healthy snack. Top your oatmeal, cereal or salad with toasted walnuts for a delicious flavor. These tender nuts can be ground or chopped and added to baked goods as well to add protein and nutrients, but also for a tasty crunch. Walnuts are also versatile and pair well with a variety of foods from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses. Ground walnuts can also be mixed with lean ground meat or poultry to make healthier meatballs.