I have had a 1 lb bag of raw walnuts (~$3.49) hanging around the fridge for a while now, and I was trying to think of a way to get my family to eat them. A failed oatmeal immersion trial told me that I was gonna have to take out the big guns…sugar.
I have been eyeing what looks like a delicious bag of “Candied Walnuts” at Trader Joe’s, but, at upwards of $6.00 for ~6 oz bag, I can’t justify spending that. So, I decided to make my own. My 6-year old has a very discerning palate, so if it she approved of them, I knew I had a success.
Basically, I threw about an ounce of walnuts into a nonstick pan with about 1-2 tbsp brown sugar and put it on a medium heat. I also threw less than a pinch of salt on them. Nothing happened for awhile, but, then I decided to pour a little water in the pan, and, like magic the sugar dissolved and started to stick to the walnuts, becoming very much like “candied walnuts.” I served them fresh from the pan, and they were a big hit with both the 2- and 6- year old, and I thought they tasted pretty darn good myself.
You might be thinking, how is this dish going to help me with my diet or improve my health? But, it’s actually very simple. Several studies link consumption of nuts to weight loss overall. It’s my personal opinion that a serving of nuts is the best way to quell a hunger pang. I’ve had several clients balk at this because nuts have roughly 170-200 calories perserving, but, a serving of nuts is going to fill you up! If you measure out a serving and drink a glass of water, you will be satisfied for at least 2 hours or more.
Probably, the most exciting thing about walnuts is that they have a high amont of Omega 3 Fatty Acids (from the California Walnuts site):
“Walnuts are unique compared to other nuts because they are predominantly composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA, both omega-3 and omega-6) rather than monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are present in most other nuts. Walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount of omega 3 fatty acids. A one-ounce serving of walnuts provides 2.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acid, or 200% of the Daily Value, as well as other health-promoting nutrients and bioactive components. Numerous studies have shown that adding walnuts to the diet produces favorable health outcomes, including lowering total and LDL cholesterol, improving LDL:HDL ratios and reducing inflammation associated with increased heart disease risk.
Omega 3’s are are not only helpful in heart disease, but, purported to be helpful with several other health issues, Medline does a nice job of summarizing all of the evidence and you can find it here.
One other thing to keep in mind is that
“It has been estimated that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet of early humans was 1:1, but the ratio in the typical Western diet is now almost 10:1 due to increased use of vegetable oils rich in LA and declining fish consumption. ” (Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University)
So, you can either reduce your consumption of Omega 6’s, which involves cutting foods out of your diet, or you can incrase your intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and actually add foods into your diet.
The two take home diet tips here are:
- Nuts can be a very effective weight management tool as long as you are conscious of potion sizes
- Making sure to get the recommended amount of Omega 3 fatty acids per day may not only help with weight management, but, also promote heart health as well as possibly help manage many other health issues
Thought recommendations vary, the Institute of Medicine established adequate intakes of 1.6 and 1.1 g/day of alpha linolenic acid (the kind found in plant sources) for males and females, respectively, for adults over the age of 14 years.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish twice weekly for those without established heart disease.