March 31, 2013

Walnuts for On-the-Go Wellness

By Kristin Decker, RD, LD
Hy-Vee Registered Dietician
(563) 355-5540

If you are looking for a delicious, nutritious and convenient snack to survive business travel or vacation, walnuts are the perfect choice.

The Nutrition Facts
Walnuts have a unique fat profile when compared to other nuts. Walnuts are mostly comprised of heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, including the essential alpha-linolenic omega-3 fatty acid. Just an ounce of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acids, meeting the daily recommendation. This high-fat, high-energy food is also a good source of protein, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Health Benefits

Heart Health

A Harvard Public School study published in the 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that heart-healthy diets supplemented with walnuts may help improve cardiovascular risk factors, specifically lowering total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Including walnuts in the diet may also decrease inflammation and oxidative stress due to the high antioxidant content. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim for walnuts in March of 2004: “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

According to a Harvard study that focused on nut and peanut butter consumption and type 2 diabetes risk, women who ate one-ounce portions of nuts, such as walnuts or peanut butter, five times or more per week may lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to women who rarely or never ate nuts.

Weight Management
Controlling appetite is key to weight management. Walnuts are the perfect choice for curbing appetite since they are an excellent source of heart-healthy fat and a good source of fiber and protein. Try counting out 14 walnut halves and place them in snack-size bags to keep portion sizes in check. Researchers noted in many studies that participants did not gain weight when walnuts were substituted for other fats in reduced-calorie diets.

Use & Storage
• Mix dried fruit and walnuts together for a simple snack.
• Add chopped walnuts to the top of a vegetable pizza.
• Toss chopped walnuts in a salad with blueberries,
strawberries, feta cheese and a light vinaigrette.
• Sprinkle walnut halves on oatmeal.
• Make a yogurt parfait with chopped walnuts and fresh berries.
• Coat fish or poultry with chopped walnuts and herbs.
• Include walnuts in side dishes such as brown rice, quinoa or couscous.
• Top pasta dishes with walnuts.

For optimal flavor and freshness, store walnuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If storing them longer than one month, place in the freezer.

One ounce or about 1/4 cup (14 halves): 190 calories, 18 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 2.5 g monounsaturated fat, 13 g polyunsaturated fat, 1 mg sodium, 125 mg potassium, 4 g total carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein. NuValTM Nutrional Scoring System Score = 82 out of 100. Higher the NuValTM Score, the better the nutrition.

Lisa’s Granola – Makes about 10 cups

All you need:
• 6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
• 1 cup chopped almonds
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup raw, unsalted pepitas
• 1/2 cup maple syrup
• 6 Tbls. canola oil
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a roasting pan or large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine oats, almonds, walnuts and pepitas in a large bowl. Whisk maple syrup, oil, honey, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl until blended. Pour over the oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan.
3. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly and evenly browned and starting to dry out, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely in the pan before serving or storing.

Per 1/2-cup serving: 267 calories; 16 g fat ( 2 g sat , 7 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrates; 8 g added sugars; 7 g protein; 4 g fiber; 60 mg sodium; 222 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Magnesium (32% daily value)

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.