The Mediterranean Diet focuses on including a variety of nuts into your meals for a host of health reasons. In honor of National Heart Health month we are showcasing the benefits and recipes featuring Walnuts and what they can offer when it comes to cardiovascular health.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
We are firm believers that a single food cannot make or break your health and that variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to meals.
However, there are certain foods that we like to call nutritional powerhouses. These foods often contain certain properties that are closely studied and tied to specific health benefits. One such food – walnuts.
Walnuts are one of those foods that contain “heart healthy fats” . By this, we mean that the majority of the fat found in walnuts is polyunsaturated. These are the types of fats that can help reduce cholesterol and include Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
In fact, walnuts are the only nut with an excellent source of Omega 3 ALA (alpha linolenic acid), which can improve heart health by –
- Reducing triglycerides, (a type of fat found in your blood)
- Slowing the buildup of plaque (the substance that can clog your arteries)
- Helping to lower your blood pressure
The CA Walnuts website has fantastic information on the specific health benefits and research surrounding walnuts.
The Mediterranean Diet & Walnuts for Heart Health
The Mediterranean Diet continues to be the focus of research for its positive effect on heart disease (among many other health benefits). Heart disease is the #1 cause of the death in the US. However, did you know 80% of cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke, etc) can be prevented with lifestyle changes? One such life-style change – adopting a healthier way of eating. With it’s focus on plant based ingredients, it’s no wonder that The Mediterranean Diet & Heart Disease have a strong, positive connection.
As shown in the Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid, nuts are in integral part of this healthy lifestyle. So many recipes and meals feature this beneficial nut.
Fun fact – there are two main types of walnuts. The English Walnut originated from Iran (Persia) while the Black Walnut is native to North America.
Earlier this year, a study was published indicating a possible greater correlation on heart health and a “Green Mediterranean Diet“. This green version of the diet included daily addition of green tea and walnuts.
Tips for Adding More Walnuts
Other than just simply tossing back a handful, there are many great ways to increase the amount of walnuts in your diet.
Some simple ways to add them to your day include –
- Adding chopped walnuts to greek yogurt or cottage cheese for a healthy breakfast or snack
- Incorporating into salads
- Mixing into sauces and dressings
- Using finely chopped walnuts in place of or mixed in with ground beef in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, meatballs or even burgers
- Substituting ground walnuts for breadcrumbs on breading for chicken or fish
- Finishing off pasta with a few chopped walnuts for crunch and flavor
Heart Healthy Walnut Recipes
We love these recipes for their flavor and the heart health benefits are just an added bonus.
Peppery Arugula-Walnut Pesto
A favorite from The Mediterranean Diet Made Easy cookbook. This sauce uses walnuts in place of the traditional pine nut to create a flavorful pesto.
Great for Breakfasts and Snacks
Walnuts in Your Salad
We love a good crunch in a salad and walnuts pair well with so many different flavors, including fruits and veggies.
Heart Healthy Appetizers
Put those small plates to work by including walnuts as a heart healthy ingredient.
More Walnut Inspiration
In addition to our tried and true recipes above, we have these gems bookmarked to add to future meals.
Roast Halibut with Walnut Crust by Epicurious
These amazing CA Walnut Recipes all look so good. And talk about variety.
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Tags: heart health, omega 3 Last modified: February 16, 2021