Latin name: nux Gallica (walnut), Juglans major (walnut tree)
What is Walnut?
Walnuts come from an ornamental deciduous tree from the Juglandaceae family. The Latin name, Juglans, is derived from “Jupiter glans,” which means “Jupiter’s acorn:” a nut fit for a god. The walnut kernel consists of two bumpy lobes that are thought by some to resemble a brain. The walnuts most commonly available today come from the Persian walnut, the only species with a large nut and thin shell; meanwhile, the black walnut species are more difficult to open and remove from the shell.
Throughout time, the walnut tree has been revered for its notably long life span and its uses as food, medicine, dye, shelter, and lamp oil. The English walnut that we eat today is thought to have originated in India and the surrounding Caspian Sea regions, which is why it is known as the “Persian walnut.” The ancient Romans introduced the walnut to many European countries around the fourth century AD.
Walnuts are rich in oil and are widely eaten fresh and used in cooking. Walnut oil, a delicious but pricey foodstuff, is usually used in salad dressings.
What are the health benefits of Walnuts?
Considered slightly warming in traditional Chinese medicine, walnuts are used to treat impotence, sexual dysfunctions, infertility, frequent urination, back and leg pain, stones in the urinary tract, constipation, and a cough.
The delicious walnut is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat that imparts walnuts with its many potential health benefits: overall cardiovascular protection, improved cognitive function, and anti-inflammatory benefits that are helpful for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis. Additionally, walnuts contain the antioxidant compound ellagic acid, which supports the immune system and is thought to have many anti-cancer properties.
Nutritionally, in addition to omega-3s and ellagic acid, walnuts contain manganese and copper.
Are there any precautions for Walnuts?
Like many tree nuts, walnuts cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
Where can I find Walnuts?
Walnuts can be found in grocery stores and specialty food stores.
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