By Liliana Usvat
Walnuts are revered since ancient times as a symbol of intellectuality, since their kernels have convoluted surface inside the shell resembling as that of brain! The nuts are enriched with many health-benefiting nutrients, especially Ω-3 fatty acids that are essential for optimum health.
The nuts are edible kernels of the fruits from tree belonging to Juglandaceae family, in the genus: Juglan. Juglan species plants are medium sized, semi-tropical, deciduous trees believed to be originating in the mountain ranges of Central Asian or southern Europe region.
–According to Dr. Royle Juglans regia extends from Greece and Asia Minor, over Lebanon and Persia, probably all along the Hindu-Kush to the Himalayas. It is abundant in Kashmir, and is found in Sirmore, Kumdon and Nepal. The walnuts imported into the plains of India are chiefly from Kashmir. Dr. Hooker states that in the Sikkim Himalaya, the Walnut inhabits the mountain slopes at an elevation of 4,000 to 7,000 feet.
According to Pliny, it was introduced into Italy from Persia, and it is mentioned by Varro, who was born B.C. 116, as growing in Italy during his lifetime.
There is no certain account of the time it was brought into this country. Some say 1562; but Gerard, writing about thirty years later, mentions the Walnut as being very common in the fields near common highways, and in orchards
The bark and leaves for Ulcers have alterative, laxative, astringent and detergent properties
The bark and leaves have alterative, laxative, astringent and detergent properties, and are used in the treatment of skin troubles. They are of the highest value for curing scrofulous diseases, herpes, eczema, etc., and for healing indolent ulcers; an infusion of 1 OZ. of dried bark or leaves (slightly more of the fresh leaves) to the pint of boiling water, allowed to stand for six hours, and strained off is taken in wineglassful doses, three times a day, the same infusion being also employed at the same time for outward application. Obstinate ulcers may also be cured with sugar, well saturated with a strong decoction of Walnut leaves.
The bark, dried and powdered, and made into a strong infusion, is a useful purgative.
Walnuts Fruits help to deal with stress
A diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil may help the body deal better with stress. Research published last year in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that walnuts and walnut oil lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory. The researchers said the study shows that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.
No insects will touch the leaves of the Walnut, which yield a brown dye, which gypsies use to stain their skin. It is said to contain iodine.
No aspect of walnuts has been better evaluated in the research than their benefits for the heart and circulatory system. Some review studies have emphasized the very favorable impact of walnuts on “vascular reactivity,” namely, the ability of our blood vessels to respond to various stimuli in a healthy manner. In order to respond to different stimuli in a healthy way, many aspects of our cardiovascular system must be functioning optimally. These aspects include: ample presence of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, proper blood composition, correct balance in inflammation-regulating molecules, and proper composition and flexibility in our blood vessel walls. Researchers have determined the ability of walnuts to have a favorable impact on all of these aspects.
Walnuts Help Reduce Problems in Metabolic Syndrome
Recent studies have shown that approximately one ounce of walnuts daily over a period of 2-3 months can help reduce several of these MetS-related problems. In addition, addition of walnuts to participant diets has also been shown to decrease “abdominal adiposity”—the technical term for the depositing of fat around the mid-section. Importantly, the MetS benefits of added walnuts have been achieved without causing weight gain in any the studies we’ve seen to date.
Benefits in Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
A variety of different measurements on blood vessel functioning (including their measurement by ultrasound) show a relatively small amount of daily walnut intake (1-2 ounces) to provide significant benefits in this area for persons with type 2 diabetes. Better blood fat composition (including less LDL cholesterol and less total cholesterol) has also been demonstrated in persons with type 2 diabetes.
Given the wide variety antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients found in walnuts, it’s not surprising to see research on this tree nut showing measurable anti-cancer benefits. The antioxidant properties of walnuts help lower risk of chronic oxidative stress, and the anti-inflammatory properties help lower risk of chronic inflammation, and it is precisely these two types of risk, that, when combined, pose the greatest threat for cancer development.
Prostate cancer and breast cancer are the best-studied types of cancer with respect to walnut intake, and their risk has been found to be reduced by fairly large amounts of walnut consumption. (Large in this case means approximately 3 ounces per day.)
The anti-inflammatory nutrients in walnuts may play a special role in support of bone health. In an everyday diet that provided 2,000 calories and 30% of those calories from fat, this 50% standard for walnuts would mean about 67 grams of fat from walnuts or 4 ounces of this tree nut on a daily basis.
Walnuts have also produced a good track record in the research as a desirable food for support of weight loss and for prevention of obesity. However, obesity has also been clearly identified by researchers as involving chronic, unwanted inflammation. As discussed earlier in this Health Benefits section and throughout this walnuts’ profile, walnuts are unique in their collection of anti-inflammatory nutrients. These nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids; phytonutrients including tannins, phenolic acids, and flavonoids; quinones like juglone; and other anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
A number of studies have shown health benefits for walnuts in the area of memory and general thought processes (often referred to as “cognitive” processes). Thus far, most of the initial research in this area has involved rats and mice, but we expect to see cognitive benefits of walnuts for humans becoming a topic of increasing research interest.
A final fascinating aspect of walnuts and their potential health benefits involves melatonin (MLT). MLT is a widely-active messaging molecule in our nervous system, and very hormone-like in its regulatory properties. MLT is critical in the regulation of sleep, daily (circadian) rhythms, light-dark adjustment, and other processes.
It has also been found to be naturally occurring within walnuts. Average melatonin (MLT) content of walnuts is approximately 3.6 nanograms (ng) per gram (g), or 102ng/ounce. Other commonly eaten foods—for example, cherries—have also been found to measurable amounts of MLT.
Sore mouth and Inflamed throat,
The juice of the green husks, boiled with honey, is also a good gargle for a sore mouth and inflamed throat, and the distilled water of the green husks is good for quinsy and as an application for wounds and internally is a cooling drink in agues.
The husks and leaves, macerated in warm water impart to it an intense bitterness, which will destroy all worms (if the liquid be poured on to lawns and grass walks) without injuring the grass itself.
Plant Walnuts from Nuts
The best conditions for the growth of walnut trees include cavernous well-drained soil and enough of sunlight. However, the trees need to be protected from strong winds, which other wise tend to uproot the vegetation or even rummage the branches. The tree grows well in mildly alkaline heavy soil, but also flourishes in damp soils. Studies have shown that the walnut trees can withstand an annual rainfall in the range of 31 cm to 147 cm and annual temperature fluctuations from 7.0 to 21.1°C and relative pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.2. The latent or dormant walnut plant can endure much cold, so much so that it remains alive even in freezing temperatures up to -27°C without sustaining any damage. However, the young spurs coming out in spring are very sensitive to cold and may be harmed by late frostiness.
- Collect nuts. Gather nuts when they have fallen from walnut trees. This is usually in the fall months, October through December, in U.S. Hardiness zones 4a through 9b
- Remove the husks. Place the walnuts in a bucket of water. Allow them to soak until the outer shell is soft to the touch. Crack the softened shell to remove the inner nut.
- Prepare the nuts for germination. This is achieved by cold treatment, or placing the nuts in cold temperatures so they achieve stratification, the process of bringing seeds out of their dormancy in order to to encourage germination.
- Prepare a small quantity of nuts. Place nuts in a plastic bag and place in a refrigerator at 34 to 41 degrees F (1.1 to 5 degrees C) for 90 to 120 days.
- Prepare a large quantity of nuts. Dig a pit 1 to 2 feet (.3 to .6 meters) deep, and large enough for the amount of walnuts you have to be spread out.
- Cover the nuts with 1 to 2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) of mulch. Place a protective screen, such as chicken wire, over the nuts and hold it down on each end with bricks or heavy rocks. Leave the walnuts over the winter until the ground thaws and dig them up. They will be ready for planting.
- Choose a planting site and plant your nuts in spring. Select an area with soil that is loamy and well draining.
- Dig small holes, 1 to 2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) deep, using a trowel. Holes should be 12 feet (3.7 meters) apart to allow for growth.
- Place the walnuts in the holes and cover them.
More about History of Walnuts Trees and Forests
While walnut trees have been cultivated for thousands of years, the different types have varying origins.
The English walnut originated in India and the regions surrounding the Caspian Sea, hence it is known as the Persian walnut.
In the 4th century AD, the ancient Romans introduced the walnut into many European countries where it has been grown since.
Throughout its history, the walnut tree has been highly revered; not only does it have a life span that is several times that of humans, but its uses include food, medicine, shelter, dye and lamp oil.
It is thought that the walnuts grown in North America gained the moniker “English walnuts,” since they were introduced into America via English merchant ships.
Black walnuts and white walnuts are native to North America, specifically the Central Mississippi Valley and Appalachian area.
They played an important role in the diets and lifestyles of both the Native American Indians and the early colonial settlers.
China is presently the largest commercial producer of walnuts in the world, with about 360,000 metric tons produced per year. The United States is second, with about 294,000 metric tons of production.
Within the U.S., about 90% of all walnuts are grown in California, particularly within the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys The annual combined walnut output of Iran and Turkey is approximately the same as the United States, and the Ukraine and Romania are next in line in terms of total walnut production.
The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan is home to some of the world’s largest remaining forests of walnut and wild fruit trees.
Kyrgyzstan’s fertile and densely populated Fergana Valley is home to some of the largest intact stands of walnut trees on Earth. Its so-called walnut-fruit forests — which contain 300 species of plants and trees, including ancestral strains of apples, plums, and pears — cover roughly 30,000 hectares, splashing green onto an otherwise dry-and-dusty Central Asian landscape. Driving beside a riverbed on the valley’s floor, you might momentarily mistake nearby walnut forests for the olive groves of southern Spain.
For decades, planners in this former Soviet republic managed Fergana’s forests with an eye toward ensuring the trees would keep producing fruits and nuts in the long term
‘To preserve green Walnuts in Syrup
‘Take as many green Walnuts as you please, about the middle of July, try them all with a pin, if it goes easily through them they are fit for your purpose; lay them in Water for nine days, washing and shifting them Morning and Night; then boil them in water until they be a little Soft, lay them to drain; then pierce them through with a Wooden Sciver, and in the hole put a Clove, and in some a bit of Cinnamon, and in some the rind of a Citron Candi’d:
then take the weight of your Nuts in Sugar, or a little more; make it into a syrup, in which boil your Nuts (scimming them) till they be tender; then put them up in Gally potts, and cover them close.
When you lay them to drain, wipe them with a Course cloth to take off a thin green Skin. They are Cordial and Stomachal.’
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