At the edge of the fence in the far back corner of my parents’ yard—a yard mainly consumed by a big white garage and a vegetable garden, and adorned with colorful flowers in the summer—sits a majestic black walnut tree.
My brother and I spent many summer evenings leaning against its scratchy bark, sweaty hands covering our eyes, counting to 20 for raucous games of hide-and-seek with the neighborhood kids. And the squirrels that inhabited the sprawling monstrosity loved to play the same game with our miniature dachshund Daisy. To this day, the tree drops green-husked walnuts every other spring, to the irritation of my father, who stoops to pick up each one, dropping them in a plastic bucket making a hollow thump with each. Having never worked to remove the nuts from their green coating, we never took advantage of the incredible super food growing in our own backyard.
Walnuts have earned this prestigious honor because they are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat that the body doesn’t manufacture naturally, and the potential health benefits include cardiovascular protection, better cognitive function and anti-inflammatory results.1 There are three main types of commonly consumed walnuts: English, White and Black. The English walnut is the most popular type in the United States due to its thinner shell and pleasant flavor.1 Brimming with richness, walnuts can be used in a variety of dishes, including in breads, desserts, salads, paninis, and with various meats, in stuffings and with multiple types of cheeses.