A walnut is the nut of any tree of the subfamily Juglans. This nut is single-seeded, rounded and stone fruit of the walnut tree often used for the meat once it’s fully ripe. Walnuts are those creamy nuts in dark brown to black fragile shells, tied in transparent nylons, hawked in Nigerian traffic. Often served as a snack, in Nigeria, walnuts are called Okwe, Ukpa or Asala.
In Nigeria, walnuts are mainly cultivated by small-scale farmers in hot and humid regions in the South West. Walnut is mainly found in compound gardens or backyards for family consumption or to sell in the local market. Production of these nuts peaks in July, they are green when unripe and eventually turn brown when approaching full maturity.
Farmers prefer to grow walnuts in agroforests to protect them from predators. These predators make harvesting difficult. Walnut trees also secrete a chemical into the soil with eliminates competition, therefore, planting walnut seeds near other desired vegetation or fruits is not ideal. This chemical will inhibit others from growing properly. In this part of the world, the males engage more in the farming while the females are dominant in the processing and retailing stage of walnuts. Walnuts can be bought in the local markets and are very common on the roads because it is largely hawked in traffic.
What is sometimes seen as the poor man’s snack is a haven of nutritional and health benefits. Walnuts are of different hybrids. The two major types of walnuts are the Persian/English walnuts and the black walnuts. The Persian walnut adopted the name ‘English walnut’ because the English merchants were responsible for their distribution around the globe. The black walnut is native to native Americans in the U.S the major difference between both types is that the English walnut has a thinner, easy to crack the shell and a milder taste whereas black walnuts have an earthier flavor, and a harder shell.
The Nigerian/African walnut as it is called in this part of the continent is similar to the black walnut, however, it is single-seeded and has a thinner shell. Farmers reel in a lot of revenue through the cultivation and sales of this nuts during its season, yet the people are unaware of its benefits to the human body.The creamy nut snack has numerous health benefits in both medical and beauty fields, ranging from vitamins to minerals antioxidants and many more. Here are some of them.
Rich in Vitamins and Mineral
Walnuts contain Vitamins B7, A, B1, B2, B6, E, potassium, manganese, copper, chloride, iron, folate, sodium and ascorbic acid. The Vitamin B mainly helps in the conversion of food to energy amongst other things. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant and other minerals are crucial to the proper functioning of the heart, muscles and digestive system.
Walnuts contain fiber and omega 3 fatty acids which prevents you from eating too much as it satisfies the body with less content, ideal for weight control.
Prevents Heart Diseases
The high antioxidant content of walnuts effectively destroys free radicals that could harm the heart. Also, the omega 3 component in the nut serves as good cholesterol which will pose no threat to arteries as opposed to bad cholesterol.
Walnuts are rich in vitamin B7 which is biotin. Biotin reduces hair loss, aids hair growth and strengthens the hair, making it good for hair.
Walnut’s natural antioxidant, Vitamin E, protects the body and skin from free radicals which could cause harmful effects and severe damages to the body.
According to scientific research, the lack of omega 3 fatty acid component of walnuts can cause tantrums, hyperactivity, and irritability. These can lead to poor mental health if not dealt with.
The phenolic compounds and antioxidants found in walnuts effectively control the growth of cancer cells in humans.
The polyphenolic and phytochemical compounds in walnuts reduce the effects of inflammation in the body.
Walnuts make melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. This is bio-available in the nuts and when ingested as part of dinner meals, it can lead to a good night’s rest.