seven easy pieces…have some brain food on the go!

You can find the most interesting pages on Facebook, don’t you think?  Just playing around with links to friends’ interests I stumbled upon the page, “WALNUTS LOOK LIKE BRAINS.” It turns out the site isn’t devoted to the love of walnuts, but it did get me thinking. Did you know that the Romans and the Ancient Chinese thought that since walnuts looked like a brain (who hasn’t thought that?) they must be GOOD for the brain!  Well, their rationale might have been faulty, but they were certainly correct about the dietary brain boosting benefits of walnuts. Just this past week I discovered a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluding that walnuts contribute to improved cognitive function. Although much more research is needed to understand studies linking diet to the fine points of overall health, we do know that our bodies function better with good nutrition, so I am suggesting that eating a small handful of walnuts every day is a good idea.

One book I keep handy is Dr. Stephen Pratt’s book, SuperFoods RX and I try to ensure that the food items he promotes for their various health benefits are constant staples in our home. It’s not unusual for me to emphasize three or four on the list and forget some of the others–but now that it’s fall, walnuts have hit the top of the list and it doesn’t get much better for brain food than raw, unsalted walnuts!

Walnuts are also linked to helping control cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation.  There is even a study providing evidence that adding a few walnuts to the Mediterranean Diet strengthens the positive correlation in overall metabolism and resorption status–contributing to good bone health and significant reductions in fasting insulin levels in adults with non-insulin treated diabetes. Sounds good to me!

Worried about calories? Good news! The calories in a small number of walnuts, (and the benefits are derived in eating only seven!) add up to more dietary efficiency than a bag of chips and are more cost efficient than any of the individually packaged snacks!  And seven satisfying walnuts (have more if you’re not calorie conscious) add only 184 extremely beneficial calories to your daily intake, fewer calories than that bag of chips! So throw a few in with your lunch or a mid-afternoon snack and see what you discover for yourself.

Pasta with walnut sauce...YUM!

Walnut oil is another delightful option.  In Medieval France this delicate, light-colored specialty was often used as currency.  And when was the last time you even thought of it? You might try drizzling walnut oil over baked acorn squash, whisking it lightly into fresh salad dressing, and it’s delightful added to beluga lentils. Yum!  Walnut oil adds a nice finish to roasted root vegetables, too.  Sounds like fall, doesn’t it? Walnut oil is best unheated, but with its many uses, strike up your culinary imagination!

And if good sleep is a problem for you, walnuts also seem to triple melatonin levels in the body.  Maybe a pre-bedtime snack of walnuts will do you more good than that last “good-night” cookie?

I’d love to know how you use walnuts or walnut oil. What is your culinary style?  Let me hear from you!

My niece gave me this beautifully carved walnut as a gift! A good reminder to eat more delicious walnuts!

Here’s to well-being! …Debra

6 thoughts on “seven easy pieces…have some brain food on the go!

  1. As a kid I hated walnuts. My mom would put them in banana bread, pumpkin bread, chocolate cookies and, worst of all, jello salads. She probably put them in alot of other things but since I didn’t really like many foods I probably didn’t pay attention to what else she put them in. Although I loved the desserts and the jello, I hated the walnuts and would spend, what felt like hours, picking them out and making little piles of them on my plate. Well, time has changed me, somewhat, and although I still don’t like a lot of foods I do like walnuts. I now make all those same desset and salads with walnuts and love them so much better with the nuts than without. Who knew?

    • I have to smile, Catherine, at the picture in my mind of you picking out walnut pieces! You really didn’t like them!! But I’m glad you’re more open to the suggestion now. Maybe try the oil sometime! That might be a nice way to get the benefits in without all the little pieces!

    • Yes, Lori, the weather is finally cool enough to begin thinking of winter squash–or at least it’s getting there! I am sure you’re going to be glad you bought that good bottle of oil! You’ll have to let me know what you think! Debra

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