The walnut, this small fruit, contains an impressive array of nutrients. It lowers cholesterol, improves metabolism and maintains the health of diabetics. In addition, it helps to cope with viral diseases, excess weight and bad mood. And this is only a small part of the huge list of useful properties of this amazing product.
It is generally accepted that the country of origin of walnuts is Persia. But the distribution of this plant in ancient times was not limited to the environs of modern Iran. Archaeologists find fossilized remains of fruits near the Himalayas, in Turkey, Switzerland, Italy. And the most ancient walnut, which is believed to have grown in 8000 BC, was found in the cave of Shanidar (modern Iraq).
In ancient times, to This plant was treated with special respect. The Persians called it royal, and only the rulers of the country had the right to eat this fruit. In Mesopotamia, lush walnut groves were a special pride. These trees were part of the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Memories of walnuts are found in the records of the Babylonians, in the Old Testament, as well as in Greek mythology. By the way, it is the Greeks who are credited with the first cultivation of the Volosh tree. Interestingly, the Hellenes called this plant Persian or royal walnut. They used it for food, as medicine, and as a dye for hair, textiles, and wool. In addition, the Greeks considered this product an aphrodisiac and called it "grains of love."
The Romans also revered the walnut fruit. In the ruins of the temple of Isis in Pompeii, archaeologists also found these nuts. It is assumed that they were sacrificed to the goddess on the day of the eruption of Vesuvius.
Why, after all, is “Greek”
We call it Greek, while other nationalities found other names for it. Historians say that it is by name that it is easy to determine where the nut came from in certain countries. The plant was brought to Russia by the Byzantines, who were perceived as Greeks. Hence the traditional name. As already mentioned, the Greeks called it Persian or royal, and, most likely, it came to the Hellenes from Persia. The Romans, who received the nut from the Greeks, called it walnut. But they did not forget about the Persian definition and also called the plant Juglans regia, which in Latin means “royal nut” or “Jupiter's acorn”.
It is interesting that all the peoples that were part of the Roman Empire subsequently began to call this product simply a nut (in Latin - nux). The root of this word has so far remained in the names of the Italians, Romanians, French, Spaniards, Portuguese. The then inhabitants of the imperial periphery "christened" the plant a Volosh nut (Wallachia - modern Romania, Eastern Romanesque peoples). This name has been preserved in Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch and English. In the USA, where the fruit was brought from Britain, it was called "English". But in Afghanistan, the nut was given a name for its appearance - charmarghz, which translates as "four brains."
The huge popularity of the tree has given rise to many myths, legends and superstitions associated with this plant. So, the Romans, who considered the walnut the fruit of the goddess of marriage and motherhood Juno, had a tradition of showering newlyweds with nuclei. The French kept bags of nuts in their homes as a symbol of abundance and longevity. And the youth had a tradition: the young men put a leaf from the tree in the shoes of the girl they liked.
In the 17th century, the Italians considered the walnut to be a “witch tree” and tried not to plant it near the stables, so as not to cause pestilence of domestic animals. They tried to pass this tree as quickly as possible and travelers who never stopped for the night near it.
Over the centuries, in most countries of the world, the attitude towards the nut has changed dramatically: either it was revered as a fruit for brain development, or it was despised as a food that dulls mental abilities.
What do modern researchers think about this product?
Today, over 30 cultivated varieties of walnuts are known in the world. For industrial purposes, its plantations are grown in China, Turkey, France, Moldova, Romania, Russia, the USA and many other countries. The young tree gives the first large crop in about the fourth year. Mature plants grow up to 20-30 m, and the circumference of the trunk can reach 7 m. These are long-lived trees. Some are two thousand years old.
By the way, it is undesirable to grow vegetables near nuts, because the roots of this tree release toxins into the soil. Biologists say that for safety it is better to step back from the trunk by 25 m.
The fruit of the walnut tree consists of three parts: the kernel (edible part), the shell (hard shell) and the pericarp (green fleshy shell). All of them have found a use.
Walnuts, along with Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts and pistachios, belong to the Nut family. Each of these species has a variety of nutrients. But if we talk about Volosh fruits, then most of the nutrients are contained in them in an amount close to 100 percent daily norms.
For example, a quarter cup of peeled fruit is exceptionally high in manganese, copper, molybdenum, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids and a host of other components. Walnuts contain more than a dozen phenolic acids, numerous tannins, and a wide range of flavonoids.
Vitamin E, found in walnuts, is especially beneficial because instead of the more common form of alpha-tocopherol found in nature, it is in the form of gamma-tocopherol. In this variation, vitamin E helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system.
Another unique feature of these fruits is that despite being high in calories and high in fat, this product is highly nutritious without causing obesity. Walnut kernels contain more polyunsaturated fats, which are important for the heart and blood vessels, than any other nuts.
In addition, this product contains the following elements:
- copper - important for the heart, bones, nervous system, immunity;
- phosphorus, a mineral essential for bone density;
- folic acid – especially needed by pregnant women;
- vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – important for immunity, nervous system, prevents anemia;
- ellagic acid - antioxidant which is essential for proper heart function, prevents cancer ;
- catechin - a flavonoid that is important for the heart;
- melatonin is a neurohormone necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the nervous system, heart, and blood vessels.
|Vitamin A (retinol)||8 mcg|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||5.8 mg|
|Vitamin E (tocopherol)||2.6 mg|
|Vitamin K||2.7 mg|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine)||0.39 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin B3/PP (niacin)||4.8 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||0.82 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)||0.8 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (folic acid)||77 mcg|
|Vitamin B4 (choline)||39.2 mg|
|Phosphorus||332 mg||Potassium||474 mg|
Usually the simplest foods are the most beneficial for the body. This also applies to walnuts, which nature has endowed with an almost perfect ratio of proteins, healthy fats, dietary fiber, plant sterols, antioxidants, and many vitamins and minerals. Therefore, among all nuts, walnut is rightfully considered the king. And eating 6-7 fruits a day, you can protect yourself from most diseases.
Walnuts help reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer. An experiment on laboratory mice showed that after 18 weeks of a nut diet, malignant formations in prostate cells slow down in growth, and the area of damaged tissues decreases. After a series of experiments, the researchers published comforting results: this fruit is able to reduce the activity of cancer cells by 30-40%. And the risk of developing malignant tumors in the mammary glands against the background of the consumption of walnuts is halved.
Substances found in fruits with anti-cancer properties:
- phytosterols ;
- ellagic acid;
Walnuts contain the amino acid L-arginine, which is especially important for people with diseases heart or predisposed to cardiac disease. But, by the way, it is precisely because of the high concentration of arginine that it is better not to use the product for people with herpes, since at the stage of treatment this trace element will cause relapses of the disease.
The second component that makes nuts good for the heart is alpha-linolenic acid. It plays the role of an anti-inflammatory agent, prevents the pathological formation of blood clots. Research confirms that people whose diet contains sufficient amounts of this substance are less prone to heart attacks, and their mortality due to heart disease is 50% lower.
But that's not all the heart benefits of walnuts. This product helps to maintain cholesterol levels within a safe range, thereby preventing atherosclerosis and other troubles caused by "greasy" vessels.
Antioxidants: unique and powerful
Antioxidants are critical to health. They are believed by scientists to control the aging process by fighting free radicals. Walnuts contain several unique and very powerful antioxidants not found in other foods. Almost 90% of these elements are concentrated in the skin of the fruit. The high content of polyphenolic substances reduces the activity of oxidative processes. The results of one study confirmed that the antioxidants found in nuts prevent liver damage from chemical poisoning.
Adding walnuts to your diet will help maintain a healthy weight. Last but not least, this is achieved thanks to the high content of proteins, which provide a feeling of satiety for a long time.
Improving reproductive health
Scientists have proven the effect of walnuts on male fertility. Studies show that individuals who consume approximately 75 g of fruit daily (a little more than half a glass) noticeably improve sperm quality, including sperm viability and motility.
Fruits containing vitamin E, folic acid, melatonin, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants have a beneficial effect on brain function. cells. All of these substances are part of walnuts. Not without reason, even in ancient times, people considered these fruits useful for the brain. Even nature itself openly hints at this in the form of a nut kernel.
Studies involving older people have shown that regular consumption of nuts significantly improves memory. A similar effect was confirmed as a result of an experiment with the participation of young people.
For 10 months, scientists observed laboratory mice with Alzheimer's disease. It turned out that after the nut diet, their memory and learning skills improved significantly. And after eight weeks of consumption of walnuts in animals, age-related transformations in brain cells slowed down.
In addition, walnuts are believed to be useful in treating depression, insomnia, mood swings, and hyperactivity in children.
Benefits for diabetes
Dietary nut fats have beneficial effects on metabolism in people with type 2 diabetes. It is known that one of the "side effects" of this disease is overweight. Regular consumption of walnuts (about a quarter of a glass on an empty stomach) reduces not only body weight, but also the level of glucose in the bloodstream. In addition, this useful product helps to strengthen blood vessels, which is also important for diabetics.
Foods such as walnuts, with near-ideal chemistry, can be dangerous in some cases. The thing is that this fruit is one of the most common and strongest allergens.
Moreover, nut allergies usually have serious consequences: anaphylactic shock or even death (if medical attention is not provided in time) is possible.
In addition, the product contains phytic acid, which, according to scientists, can interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc. However, people who follow a balanced diet should not worry about this.
How to choose the right one
When buying whole unshelled nuts, it is important to pay attention to their weight. A healthy, fresh product should feel a bit heavier in the palm of your hand for its size, and its shell should be a bright brown color. If there are signs of mold on the shell, such a fruit is not suitable for consumption. When you have to choose among shelled nuts, it is better that it be a hermetically sealed product.
After opening the container, it is recommended to store the kernel in the refrigerator in order to avoid the appearance of a bitter aftertaste.
Areas of use
In the food industry
Nut kernels are consumed raw, roasted or dried, sweet or salted. They are added to pastries, sweets, desserts, salads. This product is used to make creams and nut butters. It is especially common in oriental cuisine. Jams, marmalade and even liquor are made from green nuts.
In ancient times, so that bread would not stick during baking, the base of the stove was sprinkled with crushed shells.
Even in ancient times, walnut was used as a cure for many ailments. In particular, the ancient healers prescribed it to patients after serious illnesses - to restore strength. In the East, nuts were the staple food for troops on the march. And the oil of these fruits was used as a medicine for healing wounds and burns.
The wood of this plant is prized for its exceptional strength. Furniture, dishes, musical instruments are made from walnut wood. And during the First World War, propellers for aircraft were cut out of it.
Production of dyes
Even in ancient times, artisans learned to brew brown dye from walnut juice, and yellow from green shells. Such a dye was actively used by weavers to give their products a beautiful color.
In ancient times, women also noticed the coloring abilities of the walnut. They made hair dye from the plant. Moreover, it performed two functions at once: it gave the hair a deep brown tint and strengthened it, since this fruit is an excellent source of biotin.
Useful properties of walnut oil
This product, made from ripe kernels, has been known to mankind for many centuries. Walnut oil contains all the nutrients that a fresh fruit does. But in addition to its medicinal purposes (acceleration of wound healing), this product played other roles.
The Egyptians, for example, used it for mummification, the inhabitants of the East - as a raw material for oil lamps, the inhabitants of Western Europe - as oil in temples. In cosmetics, walnut oil is known as an anti-aging agent, smoothing the skin and giving it a healthy color and radiance.
Artists also loved this oil. In different centuries they used it to mix paints. In particular, the examination showed that Picasso, Cezanne, Monet regularly resorted to the use of this product.
The inclusion of walnuts in the diet can be considered one of the easiest ways to replenish the supply of nutrients. It seems easier to name the diseases that this tasty fruit does not cure than to list all its virtues.
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