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How to Use Walnuts for Better Health

Walnuts pack a nutritious punch, from a healthy heart to better sleep. Learn how to store and prepare walnuts for maximum benefits.

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Give Them a Little TLC

They might seem like tough you-know-whats, but walnuts are actually sensitive to heat and air exposure. To prevent spoilage, keep the nuts in their protective shells, place them in an airtight container, and store in the fridge for about a month. (If you like shelled nuts instead, choose the whole, not chopped, kind.) Not planning on eating them right away? Stash walnuts in the freezer for up to a year.

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Save the Skins

Some recipes call for rubbing off the papery exterior, but it's smart to keep this coating on. That's because many of the antioxidants are found in the skin.

Toast Them Right

Too-high heat can damage the heart-healthy fats in nuts, so proceed with caution if you love the taste of toasted walnuts. Keep your oven under 350°F and bake them for no more than 10 minutes. If you prefer to use your stove top, toast them in a skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cooking them at a higher temperature or for a longer period of time can break down the omega-3 fats.

Count on it

A 1-oz. serving of walnuts is 0.25 cup, 7 whole nuts, or 14 halves. Eyeballing it? That's about the amount that fits into a cupped palm.

Be a Health Nut

Walnuts are everything they're cracked up to be. Eating them often can help you …

  • Take care of your ticker: Walnuts pack more heart-healthy antioxidants than any other nut, along with a dose of omega-3 fats. In fact, incorporating walnuts into your diet can help lower cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.
  • Snack your way slim: At 190 calories per ounce, walnuts aren't obvious diet fare. But each serving also delivers 4 g of protein and 2 g of fiber to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Munch on a small handful and you'll be less likely to sneak those cookies before dinner.
  • Score a better night's sleep: Walnuts are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep cycle. While they're not sleeping pills, eating walnuts regularly might help you catch more quality z's.

Sources: Aida Mollenkamp, chef and author of Keys to the Kitchen; Wendy Bazilian, Dr.P.H, R.D., author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet; Rachel Begun, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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