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Time to Go Nuts Over Walnuts: This Superfood Can Help With Your Mood Swings Too!

Pamela Graviet, Senior Marketing Director, International, California Walnut Commission and Board, sits down to talk to Cosmo on all things walnut—the benefit, the myths, her favourite recipes, all else in between…

All it takes is a fistful of walnuts (shelled, of course) to get fit. 

"California Walnuts has been doing extensive research in the sector of health and nutrition for almost 26 years now. What we’ve learnt in our findings is that walnuts are extremely beneficial for the heart—they lower cholesterol, give elasticity to the blood vessels, making the blood flow smoother. In the more recent studies, on their role in general health, we also found that walnuts also help with depression, which is a huge issue all over the world. We have seminal research that it also helps with breast cancer, prostate cancer, some stomach cancers. It’s also a great pre-biotic, so good for your gut health. It also helps in diabetes—it helps to stabilise blood sugar levels because it is non-carbohydrate," says Pamela Graviet, Senior Marketing Director, International, California Walnut Commission and Board.

Pamela

SOME COMMON MYTHS ABOUT WALNUTS:

Pregnant women shouldn’t have them.

Not true. It’s really what your doctors recommend. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, so some women may be asked to not have them, but it’s not a blanket statement, it’s a case to case basis.

One should always buy shelled walnuts, not unshelled.

Not true. It’s all about how you store them. Unshelled walnuts have a but longer shelf life, surely, because the air is not in direct contact with the kernel. Walnuts don’t like heat or humidity. They are a semi-dried fruit. So don’t them put them on a shelf or in a cupboard, they’ll go bad. Store them properly, in cool a place, ideally in a refrigerator, and shelled or unshelled. Even if you’re not going to consume them right away, and have bought them in bulk, you can refrigerate the kernels for up to a year, I wouldn’t recommend freezing shelled walnuts for so long, though.

You should only have walnuts in winters.

Not true. Traditionally, walnuts were only available in the winters. In the Northern Hemisphere, walnuts are harvested generally between late August and November. So when there weren’t enough options to store them, they wouldn’t taste as good pr smelled as good by the time you got to spring. Hence it was said that you should have them in winters when they were fresh. But now you can store them, and they can be had year-round, with the same health benefits throughout.

You shouldn’t have them every day because they are heaty.

Not true. Walnuts don’t change your body temperature. So they can be consumed every day without worrying about the heaty factor. I have them five days a week myself, but that’s because I forget to have them more often!

walnut bread

HOW TO STORE WALNUTS:

1. Regardless of whether they are in a shell or just kernels, store them in a cool place, especially in the hot, humid months. They’ll last, stay fresh and taste good.

2. Store them in an airtight container. It can be a glass jar or a Tupperware box. You can even use small canisters with lids and put them in the fridge.

3. Don’t keep them near anything that smells strong, because they absorb those smells and flavours. So, if you store a walnut next to an onion, they’ll start smelling and tasting like an onion. It sounds crazy, but that’s what they do.

THE IDEAL QUANTITY:

A handful, literally. Make a little mound of them in your palm, and as many fit is how many you should have—so about 28g to 30g, depending on the size of your hand. If it’s whole walnuts, have about 5.

MY FAVOURITE RECIPES WITH WALNUTS:

1. The best thing about walnuts is that you can have them all by themselves, just as snacks, or as part of your porridge/cereal. I love chopping walnuts and fresh fruits in yoghurt and having that as breakfast. I am not hungry until 2 after that! So helps avoid binge-eating, too!

2. You can even grind them and make refreshing smoothies with them in the summers. They have a bit of bitterness, so work really well when the smoothies tend to get too sweet, they also add some nuttiness to the smoothie and taste yum!

3. Believe it or not, I even use walnuts as a substitute for meat, in spaghetti sauce. I love to cook Mexican food, so I make tacos with walnuts. I make Mexican chorizo, which is very hot and spicy. Remember I said they absorb the smells and flavours. So when you cook them in the pan with oil, the spices, chopped onions and garlic, maybe some vegetable stock, with walnuts, they almost become like ground meat. They taste fabulous! So if you want to do some fun cooking, use walnuts instead of meat, and you’ll see what I mean! And you also get your protein, Omega 3, fibre, and other wonderful nutrients, and of course, this amazing taste!

WHAT SETS CALIFORNIA WALNUTS APART:

Walnuts are of different varieties. And all of them will provide the same benefits, whether they are from Kashmir or the US, or anywhere else. What really makes California Walnuts different is the way they are grown and harvested—our agricultural practises are what changes the game. In most places, including India, walnuts are grown how they have always been grown—manually, hand-harvested, dried in the sun etc. We used to grow them the same way too, up until 80 years ago. But since then, technology has come to play a big role. We do it all with machines now—from harvesting to separating them from the leaves and twigs etc, washing them, drying them. Also, our drying racks are protected from the sun and use a slow air heat to evenly dry the walnuts from all sides, and to a set moisture level of about 8%. So the walnuts are crunchy, not chewy, and also stay stable longer, so last longer and stay fresh longer.