Make Walnuts the Center of Your Plate

Make Walnuts the Center of Your Plate

This fall, California Walnuts invites you to challenge your readers in embracing a plant-based diet by making walnuts the center of the plate.

America is known for its many cuisines, and the traditional American diet has a unique reputation based on region. In the South, meats such as BBQ or fried chicken take center stage, while in the Midwest, various cuts of steak inundate menus. Regardless of the region, the American cuisine’s reputation has been largely established by meat, but we may see a reduction in its presence. Research exploring the role a plant-based diet may play as a viable alternative to traditional animal-based proteins has many Americans reconsidering their regular protein sources. This fall, California Walnuts invites you to challenge your readers in embracing a plant-based diet by making walnuts the center of the plate.

Recent research put eggs and walnuts to the test in the diet of lacto-ovo vegetarians—defined as vegetarians who do not eat animal flesh of any kind, but consume dairy and egg products. In this study[1], 20 healthy free-living lacto-ovo vegetarians were assigned one of three weekly supplements: six n-3 FA (omega-3) enriched eggs, six 28.4-gram portions of walnuts, or six standard eggs as the control group. The study lasted eight weeks with a four-week washout in between. Findings suggested that the walnut-enriched diet reduced total HDL cholesterol and produced a favorable blood lipid profile, making it a viable, plant-based go-to for a protein alternative.

The days of walnuts being thought of as a snack food are quickly fading as they transition into this substantial role, and the USDA has even identified walnuts in the MyPlate’s protein foods gallery[2]. Just one ounce of walnuts a day provides a powerhouse of nutrients, including 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)[3]—the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Best of all, the versatility of walnuts makes them a simple, delicious addition in your everyday cooking. Challenge your readers to cut back on meat with wholesome meals such as this Acorn Squash Stuffed With Walnut-Apple Basmati Pilaf from Mollie Katzen, author of the acclaimed vegetarian cookbooks The Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

[1] Bonny Burns-Whitmore, Ella Haddad, Joan Sabaté and Sujatha Rajaram. Effects of supplementing n-3 fatty acid enriched eggs and walnuts on cardiovascular disease risk markers in healthy free-living lacto-ovo-vegetarians: a randomized, crossover, free-living intervention study Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:29

[2] http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

[3] Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. -U.S. Food and Drug Administration, March 2004.