Thursday, February 14, 2013

Walnuts and Almonds - The Best Nuts for Your Heart

While all kinds of nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, walnuts especially (14 halves contain 185 calories, 18 grams fat, 4 grams protein) have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Scientific researches have suggested that ALA may help heart arrhythmias.

Also, a Spanish study from 2006 suggests that walnuts are as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after consumption of fatty meals. The authors of this study, funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, recommended eating about ten walnuts a day to achieve such benefits.

For decease prevention, Relatively low in calories, almonds have more calcium than any other nut, making them a great food for overall health.

They are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant too that helps fight inflammation and possibly health conditions such as lung cancer and age-related cognitive decline.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Choosing the Right Nuts for Your Diet

All kinds of nuts are about equal in terms of calories per ounce, and in moderation, are all healthy additions to any type of diet. "Their mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite," says Judy Caplan, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce are almonds (25 nuts for 7 grams protein and 15 grams fat); cashews (16 to 18 nuts for 5 grams protein and 13 grams fat); and pistachios (50 nuts for 6 grams protein and 15 grams fat). Avoid nuts packaged or roasted in oil. Instead, eat them raw or dry roasted, says Caplan. (Roasted nuts may have been heated in hydrogenated or omega-6 unhealthy fats, she adds, or to high temperatures that can destroy their nutrients.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Harvesting and Handling Walnuts

Generally the Light-colored black walnut kernels have significantly milder flavor than the darker ones.

In case you prefer the light-colored kernels, hull the walnuts immediately after they drop from the tree, because allowing the hulls to partially decompose before hulling may cause a discoloration of the kernels.

The hulls are thicker and fleshy at maturity. They could be mashed and removed by hand, but of course, using some mechanical devices such as a corn sheller make the job much faster and way more convenient.

After hulling, the nuts should be washed thoroughly and spread out away from sunlight to dry for about 3 weeks. After that they should be stored in a cool and dry place.

Kernels that have been tempered before the shell is cracked are easier to remove. Soak the nuts in water for few hours, drain, then keep in a closed container for about ten more hours. The kernels should then absorb enough moisture to become tough, but still will remain loose in the shell.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Walnut Consumption and Diabetes Incidence

A lot of recent studies have indicated that walnut kernel consumption is associated with an apparent protection from coronary heart disease. These data, together with evidence that nut consumption is also associated with reduced LDL cholesterol concentrations and possibly raised HDL cholesterol levels, have reversed the proscription against nut consumption for those at risk of CHD.

Nuts were formerly regarded as high-fat foods and were therefore contraindicated for those for whom caloric restriction was required. The current acceptance that walnuts are no longer detrimental and may now be recommended for individuals at risk of heart disease has prompted a reevaluation of the possible role of nuts in the diet for diabetics.

There is, however, one rather important consideration with respect to nutrient bioavailability and bioaccessibility from whole nuts vs. ground nuts (e.g. almonds vs. almond butter). Studies have also shown that several dietary components from whole nuts are poorly absorbed, possibly due to the cell wall structures in the almond kernel. Thus, one would expect ground nuts to have a higher bioaccessibility of nutrients.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Processing Black Walnuts

Walnuts must be green and newly fallen or shaken from the tree. Processing should begin right away, because the walnuts will begin to decompose if left in a bucket or box.

Gathering the fruit is one of the easy tasks when processing walnuts. The next step is where the challenge begins. You need to get the edible nut out of its rock-hard armored casing. Squirrels, the masterminds of seed pilfering, figured out long ago how to get the job done with only their teeth, but we humans are dentally challenged by comparison. So, using our arguably superior intelligence and — we have invented all kinds of tools to crack walnut husks.

The most common and basic method of cracking the husk requires a hammer, a hard surface and a towel. Walnut-busting basics are predicated on the issue of extracting the nut without getting the indelible stain of the husk all over your hands, that is why a towel is in fact required. In the old days, slow food was the only food and often people gathered to make the laborious process of processing walnuts a party.

Once the walnut shells are extracted from the husk, you can soak and then cure the whole shells for storage, or you can skip that part and soak them for 24 hours prior to shelling. Shelling will reveal the treasure - nutritious nutmeat.