Don’t forget about the other kind of omega-3s and a recipe for Parmesan Herbed Walnuts

Omega-3 fats have certainly been a hot topic lately. Study after study is showing that they offer a host of health benefits including those for heart health, maintaining your smarts and healthy vision.  While many of the health advantages we hear about are those associated with the kinds of omega-3s found in cold water fish- DHA and EPA, there’s plenty of research accumulating that demonstrates boosting the total amount of omega-3s we consume – including the plant variety – is key to our health.

Here’s why: Scientists are also investigating how the balance of omega-3 fats in relation to other types of fats, like omega-6 fats, affects health. Omega-6s, kissing cousins to omega-3s, are also unsaturated and considered to be essential fats.  But over the past number of decades, the intake of omega-6 fats, found foods like corn, sunflower and soybean oil, has risen while the amount of omega-3 fat consumed has decreased. And this imbalance of omega-6s to omega-3s, many experts in the field believe, can be very costly to our health.

A recent study, published in the recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)  was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly a lowered odds of dying as a result of  coronary heart disease.

Photo courtesy of the California Walnut Board

Walnuts and flax, chia and hemp seeds among the plant foods that offer ALA.  Walnuts, though, have the distinction of being the only nut with significant amounts of this omega-3.

As you start planning your holiday eats, here’s a recipe courtesy of the California Walnut Board that your guests will love.  Here’s a tip on storing walnuts: if you’re using them relatively soon, store them in the fridge. For longer storage, opt for your freezer.

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Parmesan Herbed Walnuts

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 egg white
2 cups California walnut halves and pieces

In a medium bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, herb seasoning, garlic salt and cayenne pepper; set aside. In a separate medium bowl, beat egg white until frothy.  Add walnut halves and pieces; toss to coat.  Add walnuts to cheese mixture; mix thoroughly.

Spread in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Bake in 250°F oven for about 30 minutes, until golden and crisp.  Cool and store re in an airtight container.

8 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories, 7 g protein, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 21 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 14 g polyunsaturated fat, 2.59 g ALA, 176 mg sodium

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Categories: Recipes, Research Roundup

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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