Q1. What are walnuts?
Q2. Benefits of walnuts
Q3. Uses of walnuts
Q4. Nutritional Facts of Walnuts
Characteristics of Walnut:
Walnuts are round in shape in which the fruit is surrounded by a two-layer coverings. The topmost layer is often called a husk which becomes brittle during the ripening process. The fruit (often called as kernel or meat) is protected by a layer which is often called as walnut shell(brown in color) becomes hard during the ripening process. The walnuts are commercially sold after the removal of the husk which reveals the wrinkly walnut shell. The fruit with the walnut shell is then dehydrated to make the kernel ready for consumption. That is why it is considered under the dry fruits category.
The commercially available walnuts comes in two categories:
- Inshell Walnuts: In this category, the walnuts kernels come with the protected shell. The protected shell is then removed during consumption. It is often believed that the protected shell contains antioxidants that protect the oil-rich seed from atmospheric oxygen, thereby preventing rancidity.
- Walnut Kernels: This category of walnuts which is often called akhrot giri in hindi is the fruit or kernel which is extracted out of the shell. To increase the shelf life of the walnut kernels, it is packed using a different shelf life enhancement process such as the nitrogen flushing, air suction process or using consumable grade oxygen absorbers. The prices of the walnuts are often based on the grading of the kernels. The grading is often based on the portion size of the kernel which may be whole, halved, or in smaller portions due to processing. The smaller portions are cheap as compared to the whole and halved. The other grading criteria include color, taste and oil richness.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
1. Weight Control Management
2. Reduces the risk of Cancers
3. Helps Fight Inflammation
4. Promotes a Healthy Gut
5. Helps Lower Blood Pressure
6. Supports Mental Health and Growth
7. Supports Male Reproductive Health
8. Source of Healthy Fats
9. Source of Omega-3s
10. Rich in Antioxidants
Uses of Walnuts
From the shells to the kernels, each part of the walnut can be used for different purposes.
The shells being the versatile abrasive media, they are used in non-skid applications, filler applications, blasting, tumbling, cleaning, polishing, filtration, cosmetics, etc. The shells are the key ingredient in a variety of beauty products. The shells are considered to have a huge healing power and had a very popular use in folk medicine. Walnut husks are also used to make a durable ink.
The kernels, on the other hand, are used as an ingredient in a variety of food items and can also be consumed directly.
Some of the food dishes where walnut kernels can be added as an ingredient are
- Homemade granola with a mixture of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, using walnuts
- Pesto sauce using walnuts and use with pasta or flatbread
- Ice cream toppings
- Chicken Dishes
- Cake and Fudge
- Walnut Butters
- Roasted Snacks
Nutritional Facts of Walnuts
Discussing about the fundamental nutritional value of the walnuts. Walnut Kernels contains 65 percent fat, 15 percent protein, 14 percent carbohydrates, 7 percent dietary fiber and 4 percent water. Other essential nutrient includes dietary minerals and vitamins, particularly manganese at 163% DV, and B vitamins.
Walnuts are also a good source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Though most of the nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, walnut oil is composed largely of polyunsaturated fatty acids (72% of total fats), particularly alpha-linolenic acid (14%) and linoleic acid (58%), although it does contain oleic acid as 13% of total fats. Walnuts are known for high-calories and are a great source of energy.
Walnuts are considered to have a rich combination of fundamental nutritional value with an indicator of a decent nutritional profile. That is why they are considered to be a great food to add in the healthy diet.
The inadequate storage conditions may degrade the quality of walnuts which makes it vulnerable to insect and fungal mold infestations. A mold-infested walnut batch should be entirely discarded.
For commercial and home storage, the ideal temperature for the longest possible storage of walnuts is in the −3 to 0 °C (27 to 32 °F) and low humidity.
The temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F), and humidities above 70 percent can lead to rapid and high spoilage losses.
Origin and Production
There are two major species of walnuts which are characterized based on its seed- the Persian or English walnut and the black walnut.
Juglans Regia, the English walnut originated in Iran (Persia). Juglans nigra or eastern American black walnut has an origin native to North America.
The black walnut is of high flavor, grows mostly in riparian zones(interface between land and a river or stream). Due to its hard shell, it is not grown commercially for nut production and has other commercial uses. On the other hand, the English walnut is commercially produced mainly for the fruit.
Few Countries that are known for the productions of the walnuts are
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database of 2017, the world production amounts to 3.8 millions of tonnes with China having a majority share of 1.92 million of tonnes. In India, Jammu & Kashmir and some parts of Himachal Pradesh are the only states which have a necessary climatic condition to produce walnuts. Due to the unavailability of the modern technology methods in the regions, the supply is limited but has a high nutritional value as the fruit is often produced in the natural climatic conditions.