Walnuts. You’re either a lover or a hater, there is no in between. And if you've been a walnut hater, the latest news on the versatile whole food may have you joining Team Walnut once and for all.

The healthy walnut is a rich source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It’s an excellent source of the omega-3  alpha-linolenic acid (2.5 grams per ounce!)--which is rare for a nut. These healthy fats are important for heart health, particularly in preventing heart attacks, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and in preventing hardening of blood vessels. In other words: they're really, really good for you.

If you’ve ever looked at a walnut and thought it reminded you of a brain, there’s a reason for that, too (and a whole science lesson for another day). Like other nuts, walnuts are indeed a brain food. It’s those same essential fats that are good for heart health (and some seriously glowy skin) that also can give the brain a good boost of energy.

Like other nuts, walnuts can help keep you feeling full longer, too. Feeling snacky during lockdown? Don't reach for the cookies. Well, unless they're loaded with walnuts. But do yourself a favor and just reach for the nuts instead. You're likely to find you won't eat as many as you think will. And you'll feel full but not stuffed for quite a while.

Walnuts Take Center Plate

Now, chefs are turning to walnuts to minic meat in a number of dishes. The walnut’s naturally rich and meaty texture lends itself well to crumbling (think ground beef or pork). Think meaty sausage-like pizza toppings or savory tacos and burgers. As consumers look to diversify their protein options, walnuts may be a great go-to for those avoiding common allergens like wheat or soy.

Chef Andrew Arndt, of the Marriott Hotel in Newport Beach, Calif., says he prefers (California) walnuts to soy or other processed plant options, “[they] are a wholesome food I can get behind,” he told FSR magazine.

“It’s impressive how versatile they are,” says Juliet Greene, a consulting innovation chef for California Walnuts. “Walnuts also deliver both health and indulgence and are easily incorporated into countless foods.”

"Our go-to recipes include walnut pesto, toasted walnut hummus, walnut and vegetable burgers, as well as walnut milk for our coffee bars," Arndt says. "The flavor profiles are endless with walnuts, from sweet to savory, breakfast through dinner."

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