Walnuts: One of Mother Nature's healthy snacks

Packaged walnuts are a major diet contributor to heart health.

Incorporating walnuts in a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Walnuts have also been shown to aid in lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Being low in simple carbohydrates and saturated fats makes walnuts a good choice for people trying to improve their health.

Black walnuts are a good source of important nutrients and add a rich, distinctive flavor to a variety of recipes. Among all nuts, walnuts pack significantly higher amount omega-3 fatty acids or alpha-linolenic acid.  They are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. Walnuts are also one of the best plant sources of protein.  A one ounce serving of black walnuts meets the recommended daily value for the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese, respectively.

Nuts in general are high in calories, so moderation is the key, advises Michigan State University Extension. The best approach is to reap the health benefits of eating walnuts, but to not add excessive calories to your daily intake. Therefore, instead of just adding walnuts to your current diet, eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats (such as cheese and meat) and limit your intake of these tasty treats to the recommended 1.5 ounce per day. This equals about 20 walnut halves.

Walnuts also add a flavorful crunch to dishes. Here are some simple ideas to incorporate walnuts in your diet to reap their health benefits:

  • Instead of snacking on cookies, crack open some walnuts and eat them as a snack.
  • Substitute for meat by tossing toasted walnuts in your salad or pasta to add some crunch.
  • Use as a protein choice by sprinkling chopped walnuts in your oatmeal or breakfast cereal.

Walnuts are a smart addition to a healthy lifestyle and tasty, too. From boosting energy to lowering risk factors for heart disease, you can go nuts for nuts thanks to their many health benefits.

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