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Walnuts( Akhrot Nattu Akrotu Kottai Akrotandi)
The cultivation of walnuts has a long history dating back to over thousand years but there are varying theories surrounding its origin. English walnuts are believed to have originated in India and the regions surrounding the Caspian Sea. The ancient Romans introduced the walnut into many European countries in the 4th century AD and since then; it’s been cultivated there extensively. The walnut tree has always been revered due to its long life span which is several times that of humans and also because of the versatile uses in terms of food, medicine, shelter, dye and lamp oil. The walnuts grown in North America are often called “English walnuts” as they were introduced into America through the English merchant ships. The other variations of walnuts include black walnuts and white walnuts, and they are native to North America, specially the Central Mississippi Valley and Appalachian areas. They served a very pivotal role in the food and lifestyles of the early colonial settlers and also the Native American Indians. Currently, China is the world leading commercial producer of walnuts, with about 360,000 metric tons per year, closely followed by the United States, Ukraine and Romania.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
Walnuts are known for their benefits to the heart and circulatory system. They help maintain proper blood compositions, correct balance in inflammation-regulating molecules and proper composition and flexibility in the blood vessel walls.
Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These acids are essential for improving a wide variety of cardiovascular functions, including blood pressure. Apart from improving the ratio of good and bad cholesterol, preventing cholesterol from turning into plaque within the arteries and precluding erratic heart rhythms these acids are also effective in preventing heart attacks by making it less likely for the blood to clot in arteries.
Walnuts are effective in reducing problems in metabolic syndromes which is a condition characterized by a collection of overlapping metabolic problems including excessive blood fats (triglycerides), high blood pressure, inadequate HDL cholesterol and obesity. Further, walnuts also assist in decreasing abdominal adiposity.
Often known as the “brain food” because of the immense benefits to the brain, walnuts help the nutrients to enter the cell membranes in the brain and also allow the waste products to exit from the cells, due to the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.
Walnuts contain high number of antioxidants. The antioxidant properties of walnuts help in lowering the risk of chronic oxidative stress, while the anti-inflammatory properties are effective in reducing the risk of chronic inflammation. These risks can lead to cancer development; hence, regular intake of walnuts can prevent prostrate and breast cancer.
Regular intake of walnuts is helpful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes as it helps maintain blood sugar levels and insulin metabolism.
The anti-inflammatory properties of walnuts are helpful in protecting bone health. These are further effective in curing conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, psoriasis and eczema.