7 reasons to add walnuts to your diet

Young or old, everyone can be mentally sharper by eating walnuts

Walnuts

Enclosed in a hard, round shell, walnuts have an uncanny resemblance to the brain. But that’s not why they are called the ‘brainy’ food. It's the omega-3 fatty acids present in them that boost brain power and help in aiding memory. That's why they are recommended for young children during their study years, and also for the elderly to stave off the risks of Alzheimer’s and other brain-related conditions.

But the benefits of walnut are not restricted only to your grey matter. Here are some other ways that these kernels boost vitality.

Glow with goodness

Walnuts are a rich source of copper, which help keep away wrinkles and fine lines. The elastin present in copper helps maintain the elasticity of your skin, thereby keeping it youthful and radiant. Walnuts can also be powdered and used as a face scrub for exfoliation to remove dead cells and reveal your natural glow. Walnut shell powder [available readily] is also used an a natural exfoliant. It is added to soaps and face wash to make scrubs.

Weight watcher

Walnuts are rich in proteins, omega-3 acids and fibre—all of which combine to give you a feeling of fullness, and keep hunger at bay for long periods. Have a handful of walnuts as a snack, with some raisins. Keep a pack of walnuts in your workplace, to snack on. Walnuts are also a great post-workout snack, to combat exhaustion.

Hale and hearty

Omega-3 acids yet again! This super-hero takes absolute good care of your heart by lowering LDL [the bad cholesterol], and increasing HDL [the good one], controlling high blood pressure, reducing inflammation of blood vessels and chances of a blood clot.

Daily detox

Toxins such as free radicals are formed in our body due to unhealthy diet, stress, exposure to pollution and UV radiation. The polyphenols, manganese, copper and vitamin E present in walnuts help in purging these toxins from the body. Additionally, walnuts boost your immunity and also have anti-cancer properties.

Pregnancy partner

Walnuts are essential for women during and after pregnancy. The omega-3 fats are crucial in the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. Walnuts are also beneficial for lactating mothers to maintain a healthy supply of milk.

Hair health

For those struggling with hair-fall and hair issues, walnuts will come to the rescue. This nut is rich in biotin—the deficiency of which leads to hair-fall. Thus, walnuts help in strengthening hair and improving hair growth.

Sound sleep

The next time you are tempted to open your refrigerator for a midnight snack, hold back! Instead, reach out for a fistful of walnuts. It not only satiates your hunger in the right way, but also raises the levels of melatonin in your blood—a hormone that induces sleep.

Too much of it can be bad

Like all good things, eating walnuts too should be done within limits; 4 – 7 halves per day are sufficient. Excessive intake can lead to diarrhoea, and may even interfere with the absorption of iron.

You may also like: A walnut a day

You may be allergic to walnuts if you notice any of the following symptoms after eating walnuts: itching, swelling of the lips, rashes on the skin, wheezing or dizziness.

Fun ways to have walnuts

If you or your children find it boring to eat plain walnuts, here are some combinations to make it interesting:

  • Whip up a delicious dessert of parfait, layered up with pieces of apple, ice-cream [or yoghurt] , crushed walnuts and jelly
  • Grind walnuts and mix with chapatti dough
  • Walnut powder can also be used to thicken soups, gravies and stew
  • Walnuts are a great addition to your morning bowl of breakfast cereal
  • They add richness to cakes, cookies, muffins, brownies, breads, smoothies as well as home-made chocolate
  • Add crunchiness to your fillings of samosas, kachoris, dumplings, rolls, cutlets, and toppings of pizzas, uthappams and salads with a sprinkling of walnuts.
  • You can also add it to Kashmiri pulaos, upma, kheer, halwas and most Indian desserts.

This article first appeared in the October 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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