When it comes to walnuts, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. From their rich history to their incredible nutritional profiles, walnuts are superfoods that have been enriching the diets of humans for many thousands of years. Here are six random facts that we bet you didn’t know about walnuts.
Walnuts are the oldest tree food
We told you that they were old, but did you know that walnuts are in fact the oldest known tree food, dating back to 7000BC! The first evidence that we have for the human consumption of walnuts was a number of roasted walnut shells that were found in a Neolithic site in France. It’s likely that the Neolithic people of this time were roasting the walnuts to help them crack open their tough shells.
Walnuts aren't technically a nut at all
Walnuts, like many other nuts, aren’t technically botanical nuts at all and are in fact the seed of a drupe. A drupe is an indehiscent fruit in which sits a hardened shell and then a seed. Almonds are also the seed of a drupe and peanuts are actually legumes!
Walnuts are a great pregnancy food
Filled with omega-3 fatty acids as well as being a great source of protein, vitamins and antioxidants, walnuts are considered to be a great pregnancy food, contributing to foetal development and neurological health. Pregnant women can eat up to 30g of walnuts a day, helping to keep them satiated and nourished and contributing to the growth of their baby.
Walnuts can help you fall asleep
If you struggle to fall asleep then try eating a handful of walnuts before bed. Walnuts are a great source of tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into B-vitamins by the body and is essential for the production of sleep hormones, What’s more, walnuts and are also one of the best sources of melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone that helps you to drift off to sleep.
Walnuts are good for your brain
Not only do walnuts look scarily similar to a brain but they could actually help to keep them healthy too. It has been suggested that walnuts could be beneficial in helping to ward off dementia and they have also been found to help break down the protein-based plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Walnuts are also an excellent source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, that can help to fight off free radicals in the body.
Walnuts are a great food for diabetics
Walnuts provide a number of health benefits that are particularly beneficial for those with diabetes but the most important benefit is that they help to decrease their risk of heart disease. People who are diabetic are much more prone to heart disease than those who are not, and walnuts help to reduce their bad cholesterol levels and to keep their arteries clear. What’s more, walnuts also have a low glycemic index, which means that they are absorbed slowly and will not spike a diabetic person’s blood sugar levels.