Growing up, I lived on a 1-2 acre plot of land that had multiple black walnut trees. I remember as a child finding fallen walnuts (or what I called “wonuts”), cracking them open with a hammer, sometimes smashing my fingers in the process, and then eating the walnut meat fresh from the source. There aren’t many people who are fortunate enough to have grown up with this amenity, and I for one, am thankful as it gave me an appreciation for nuts.
Walnuts are round stone fruits containing a single seed, which comes in the form of two halves. The most common types are English walnuts (juglans regia) originating from Persia, and Black walnuts (juglans nigra), which are native to eastern North America. The most commercially available walnut, however, is typically a hybrid of the English walnut, due to its ease of harvesting. When ready to harvest, the walnuts’ hulls break open, exposing the dark shell inside.
Walnuts are becoming increasingly popular with over 3 million metric tons being produced in 2012 alone. The year’s top five producing countries, in descending order, were: China, Iran, United States, Turkey and Mexico (source).
With a softer texture similar to pecans, walnuts resemble the shape of a brain. This is no coincidence as walnuts provide brain boosting benefits by contributing antioxidants, B vitamins, monounsaturated fat and vitamin E. Perhaps the most commonly toted benefit of walnuts, however, is their hefty dose of 20.8g Omega-3 and 86.4g Omega-6 fatty acids per cup (source).
1 cup shelled walnut halves contain the following daily values:
- 12% Potassium
- 28% Dietary fiber
- 30% Protein
- 9% Calcium
- 16% Iron
- 25% Vitamin B6
- 39% Magnesium
Due to how easily it stains, the dark pigment in walnut hulls is sometimes used as ink for writing and dye for fabric.
Interesting fact: Bach flower remedies have listed walnuts as one of the 38 substances they use to prepare their products (source).