Nuts about Walnuts

In an article by Dr. David Katz, Director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale presents scientific data from a couple of studies that tout the therapeutic benefits of walnuts (which have come to be my new favorite nuts).  In one study, they found that “adding walnuts to the daily diet of adults with Type 2 diabetes for two months significantly improved blood vessel health, as measured by something called endothelial function.”  (Source)

A great movie to get a visual orientation on how endothelial cells function is Forks Over Knives – it was released this summer and probably available for an online download by now.  These honey-comb shaped cells play a vital role in how blood flows through our arterial systems; The faster the blood surges through your arteries, the more youthful and vibrant your organs.

Katz’ own study paralleled with the diabetes research in which he found that adding about 14 walnuts a day to the diet of individuals who display metabolic syndrome (considered to be a potential pre-diabetic state), adding roughly 14 walnuts a day to their diet, did not gain weight, but rather stabilized in weight gain and all showed improved blood pressure and endothelial function.

Walnuts are a source of restorative Omega 3’s (alpha linolenic acid)  and according to Katz, unparalleled in nutritious value when compared to other nuts.  They are loaded with Vitamin E, and other anti-oxidants (flavonoids and bioflavonoids.)


When buying walnuts, it’s okay to buy from discount warehouses, like Costco’s Kirkland brand or Sam’s Club.  Of course, organic is always best, but can be pricey.   It’s important to note that any nuts or seeds should be soaked before eating!  The peels are loaded with enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients that make them difficult to digest as well as canceling out some of their nutritive value.  If you buy them roasted and flavored, such as in the sugary glazed varieties, the enzymes and nutrients have been destroyed and the oil becomes rancid and frankly more of a health hazard than a benefit.  Soaked nuts are move “alive” as the embryonic leaf (cotyledon) has been amakened — and they are much more digestible and delicious.

Simply soak them in water – about double the amounts.  For instance, 2 cups of walnuts in 4 cups filtered water.  Soak from 8-12 hours and then RINSE AND DISCARD the soak water.  Soaked walnuts are one of Dr. Oz’ favorite snacks during his intensive work day.   You can lay them out to dry on a cooking sheet lined with white paper towels (you can cover with one of those picnic cheesecloth domes) or in a dehydrator.

The cool thing about soaking and re-drying as that you can then flavor them as in the recipe below.

At a recent upscale cooking school where I did a guest chef Raw Fusion dinner (The Rolling Pin – I will be back there with a holiday 5 course menu on November 10th) I did an experiment with the diners.  I gave them 2 small cups – one filled with raw walnuts direct from the bin at a health food store, the other with some soaked and re-dehydrated nuts.  They preferred the latter, and described them as being “buttery and much more flavorful.”  Try this and you will see!

Grab a handful of nuts before a workout; mix them with dried fruits for a midday snack; add to salads to get a healthy serving of omega 3’s so crucial to mitigate the overexcess of inflammation-causing Omega 6’s in our over-processed and fast food diets.

NOTE:  I make a lot of great pates and main courses with walnuts and will feature recipes for them in upcoming posts.

Here’s a recipe from our upcoming “Delicious Nutritious Supersnacks” line – Last year I made them as holiday gifts and they were probably the most popular presents I ever made; they  have been described as being “the bomb.”   We’ll post an announcement when they are available online or in your local store, but in the meantime, why not making them?  While they will remain enzymatically complete and raw in a dehydrator maintained at about 115 degrees, you can try making them in your oven.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Turn you oven to the lowest temperature and keep the door cracked.  They may take several hours so make sure that you are home and can be monitoring their progress!



Ingredients: 2 cups walnuts

4-5 TB. organic maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla powder or 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract (alcohol free)

dash of salt

1-2 TB. ground cinnamon

(Raw Fusion Note: Maple Syrup and Vanilla Extract are not considered raw as they are both prepared at heat levels higher than 118 degrees. You can substitute the maple with maple crystals, raw agave, or yacon syrup if you require 100% raw and omit the vanilla or use organic vanilla powder)

Prep: Soak walnuts overnight. Rinse well and dehydrate on screens for 24 hours.  OR you can go right to the flavoring/re-drying stage outline below.

Directions: Transfer dried walnuts to bowl and add all of the other ingredients, tossing the walnuts lightly to mix evenly. Feel free to adjust any ingredients according to taste. Place walnuts on paraflex sheets or parchment paper with screens underneath. Dry for 24 hours on paraflex/parchment – then transfer to screens and dry for another 24 hours. Store in air tight jars.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A DEHYDRATOR:  Line a cookie sheet (or 2) with parchment paper or a silpat sheet and bake at the lowest temperature until thoroughly dry.  Store in freezer or airtight jars.

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  1. I get confused on soaking nuts. I thought your raw fusion book stated that you dont soak nuts when making candies or crusts (portobella pesto pizza) but do soak them for other things like raw-cotta cheese.

    1. Great question, Rosemary! A soaked nut is always a more nutritious one. Here’s what I do – each month I buy a large (3-4 lbs) bag of walnuts and soak them for 12 hours. I might use a cup or two of those the next day in a pate, but I dehydrate the rest and store in jars. So, even though I use a “dry” walnut for a crust, it has been nutritionally optimized. That said, it’s not the end of the world if you use a completely dry (i.e. unsoaked) nut in a crust.

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