Walnut is derived from an abbreviated Latin word Jovis glans which means regal nut of Jupiter or nut of ‘the Gods’. It was believed that the gods dined on walnuts hence regia or regal. Walnuts are the fruit of the Juglans regia, (also J. nigra for the black walnut). Origin of the term walnut has dubious origins as few scholars say that the term was derived from the Teutonic German wallnuss or welsche nuss and others debate it is from the Anglo-Saxon word wealh which means foreign or alien and hnutu meaning nut.
Ancient Romans believed that Walnuts originated in Persia as early cultivation spanned from southeastern Europe to Asia Minor to the Himalayas. Walnuts are commonly known as Akhrot in Hindi and most of the other languages and called as Akhrod in Marathi. Walnuts are harvested in December and adding walnuts makes a delicious way to add extra nutrition, flavor and crunch to the meal.
There are different varieties of walnuts varying different origins and have been cultivated for thousands of years. The English walnut originated in India and surrounding region of Caspian Sea hence it is known as the Persian walnut. Throughout its history, the walnut tree has been highly revered; not only does it have a life span that is several times that of humans, but is used in various ways that includes in food, medicine, shelter, dye and lamp oil. It is thought that the walnuts grown in North America gained the moniker “English walnuts,” since they were introduced into America via English merchant ships. Black walnuts and white walnuts are native to North America, specifically the Central Mississippi Valley and Appalachian area. They played an important role in the diets and lifestyles of both the Native American Indians and the early colonial settlers. Presently China is the largest commercial producer of walnuts in the world, with about 360,000 metric tons produced per year. The United States is second, about 294,000 metric tons of production.
Walnuts are a part of the tree nut family which includes the Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Walnuts are extensively used in India especially in Jammu it is used as a Prasad (offering) to Mother Goddess Vaishnav Devi and, generally as a dry food in the season of festivals such as Diwali. The nuts are rich in oil, and are widely eaten both fresh and added to many recipes like preparing the spicy walnuts or adding to special Indian sweets like Burfi and making yummy and delicious walnut chutney and many more. Walnut oil is expensive and consequently is used sparingly; most often in salad dressing.
The delicious and regal walnut comes from an ornamental tree which is highly prized for its beauty. The walnut kernel consist two bumpy lobes that look like abstract butterlies. The lobes are off white in color and covered by a thin, light brown skin. They are partially attached to each other. The kernels are enclosed in round or oblong shells that are brown in color and very hard. There are numerous species of walnut trees and only three main types of walnuts are consumed that includes the English (or Persian) walnut, Juglans regia, the black walnut, Juglans nigra and the White (or butternut) walnut, Juglans cinerea.
Walnut trees can grow up to 100 feet tall with trunks up to twelve feet in diameter. Of the fifteen edible species of Juglans, the Persian or English variety is the most delectable and the most widely-used. English walnuts have a thin shell which is easily cracked. The curly nutmeat halves have a sweet flavor with a touch of the bitterness and astringency of the golden to dark-brown paper edible skin. Other varieties include black walnut, Chinese walnut, Japanese walnut, and white walnut also often called butternut. Walnut oil has been employed in oil paint, as an effective binding medium, known for its clear, glossy consistency and non-toxicity.
Not only being great in taste and flavor, walnuts are also a rich source of many nutrients. They are rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Like most nuts, they can easily be added to your healthiest way of eating or diet plan. You can just chop and add them you any of your favorite salad, vegetable dish, fruit, or dessert.
Beware as nuts are generally high in calories so use them in moderation. So add few and gain their benefits instead of overeating and gaining more calories. 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 oz per day. That is about 20 walnut halves. As they add crunchiness to dishes you can eat them as snacks or use them with meats or toss toasted walnuts in salads or pastas or even add them into your breakfast porridge, oatmeal, cornflakes or breakfast cereals. Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein.
Walnuts also contain essential proteins and vitamins for the development of the body. The nut is also rich in vitamins B and E; a high content of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is present in walnuts. Folate and beta carotene are also present in high quantities. Walnut is also a rich source of proteins. It is known to contain higher amount of proteins than eggs. The total protein content of walnuts is 24%. Different amino acids present in walnuts are arginine, glutamate, asparate, leucine, isoleucine, glycine, etc. Minerals other than copper and manganese present in high quantities are potassium, phosphorus and calcium. Iron content of walnuts helps in maintaining blood levels up to the mark. Raw walnut nutrition facts mentioned above thus give an idea about the rich quality of this nut. Walnuts are unique in their collection of anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Food allergy symptoms may sometimes be immediate and specific and can include skin rash, hives, itching, and eczema; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; tingling in the mouth; wheezing or nasal congestion; trouble breathing; and dizziness or lightheadedness.
Walnuts are considered to be a herb in Traditional Chinese medicine. They are said to tonify kidneys, strengthen the back and knees, warm and hold qi in lungs and help kidneys to grasp the qi, moisten the intestines and move stool. It is believed to stop asthma and is prescribed to be taken between bouts of asthma, but not for acute asthma. It is also used by the elderly to relieve constipation.
The nutritional values of 125 gms (approx 1 cup chopped) Walnuts are:
Protein: 30.1 g
Carbohydrates: 12.4 g
Water: 5.7 g
Calories: 3236 kj
Dietary fiber: 8.5 g
Sugars: 1.4 g
Fat: 73.7 g
Calcium: 76.2 mg
Iron: 3.9 mg
Magnesium: 251 mg
Manganese: 4.9 mg
Phosphorus: 641 mg
Potassium: 654 mg
Sodium: 2.5 mg
Zinc: 4.2 mg