Walnut trees have been cultivated around the world for centuries. From Old World Europe, to Japan, to North America, to Argentina, their fruit – the walnut – has been incorporated into many different cuisines, and harvested for its strong timber. The walnut shell has been widely used also – ground to powder of varying grits, which provides the abrasion component found in cleansers and polishes from everything from jet engines to facial scrubs.
However, the benefits of the walnut reach beyond its industrial application or its side-show appearance in many cultural recipes. There are some major health benefits that are quickly become apparent from regular walnut consumption. Walnuts are a phytonutrient food, rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory constituents. One constituent in particular unique to walnuts – juglone, a quinone (quinones are naturally occurring chemicals found in many foods which act as precursors to many essential enzymes and vitamins) – was once thought to be only a toxin that acted as a natural pesticide for other would-be competitive plants. However this phytotoxin has been investigated through clinical studies and proves itself a toxin against cancer cells as well! It has shown to kill off leukemia and melanoma cancer cells and precancerous cells while leaving normal tissue unharmed, and is currently being investigated for other types of cancers and therapy options.
Walnuts are also packed with essential nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids (great for cardiovascular health and disease prevention), manganese (essential for vitamin and enzyme production and regulation), and copper (essential for proper iron absorption and transport). I also provides trace amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, zinc and selenium; and has about 2 grams of fiber, and over four grams of protein per one ounce serving. Besides, what’s could be easier than grabbing a handful of these delicious nuts for a quick on-the-go snack? At just over 180 calories, walnuts are a convenient, nutritious, and extremely beneficial food item that is often overlooked and underappreciated. Nevertheless, if working on losing weight, do not overindulge on this fantastic nut.