Wednesday, April 4, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: My Love Affair with Walnuts

"People need to eat whole food plant foods, primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  That diet supports our lives.  We ought to live to be 90 or 100 without any diseases."  
                    --John Mackey, co-founder and current CEO of Whole Foods Market

Perhaps it was growing up with a walnut tree outside my bedroom window in Sacramento, California.  My mother would pay us to bag walnuts.  I learned how to carefully shell walnuts, often eating more than made it into the pile for cooking and baking later.

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Many years later, I learned that gently toasting walnuts makes their flavor pop.  When I made my first walnut-basil pesto, I knew I could eat freshly made pesto and Italian pasta every day!  

Walnuts are considered the healthiest of all the nuts.  Like other nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts), they are made primarily of unsaturated fats, the good fat, and are very good for us – in moderation, of course.  Unlike most other nuts, walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (essential because they are not made by the body, you have to get them from food).  Foods containing omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as walnuts, flax seeds (use ground only please), wild salmon and olive oil are good for your heart health, preventing anxiety and depression, improving bipolar disorder, improving triglycerides, and reducing inflammation.

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A couple of years ago, someone told me about the “God’s Pharmacy” video on  In this video, key foods are connected with the health of organs in the body.  Walnuts actually look like little brains and are connected to brain health because of their nutritional value to the brain.  

No wonder I have always had a love affair with walnuts.  This special nut has been a part of my life in a big way since moving to Sacramento when I was five.  

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Walnuts make delicious, easy snacks.  They greatly increase the nutritional density of recipes.  They give baked good a nice crunchy texture.  After all, what would zucchini bread or carrot muffins be without walnuts? 

Let's ensure that kids develop healthy brains and have access to foods that can promote good moods, prevent depression and memory disorders.

Please store walnuts in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness.  To find some of my favorite walnut recipes, go to or click here.

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.