California Walnuts for PlantBased mag

California Walnuts flew Deni out to their San Francisco orchard on a press trip as part of her commission for PlantBased magazine. She was the only journalist, alongside a celebrity doctor and dietitian.


California Walnuts are a nutrition powerhouse of the plant world, and so deliciously sweet.

They’ve been taking a back seat crumbled in carrot cake while almonds dominate plant milk innovations and peanut – not even a nut! – remains the most popular nut butter. But we should all be eating more walnuts. Eating 1-2 handfuls of walnuts each day may provide health benefits specific to cancer prevention, improved brain health and longevity, improved reproductive health and reduction in bad cholesterol.

The healthy nut, which incidentally looks like a brain, contains naturally-occurring omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are fantastic for brain health. You get 2.24g in 30g/1 oz to be exact. That’s your whole recommended daily intake, so you can shelve fish and fish oils for this purpose if you wish. Other great plant-based sources of omega-3 include chia seeds and flaxseed, but California walnuts are so exceptionally palatable and fantastic eaten fresh and whole.

A misunderstood superfood

Many (even vegans) are wary of eating too many nuts and walnuts due to perceived calorie load (they are high fat after all, even if it is all good fat). But a recent study commissioned by California Walnuts (Walnuts consumed by healthy adults provide less available energy than predicted by the Atwater Factors, Authors – Baer D, Gebauer S, Novotny J, Published: J Nutr. 2016 Jan;146(1):9-13.) shows that this wonder nut may actually be lower calorie than previously thought, due to the way we digest them and break them down inside.

California walnuts are a sweet and light variety of walnut which supplies much of the world with its demand each year, and the company is constantly funding scientific research into the health benefits, many of which are newfound and exceptional.

For example, did you know that eating walnuts may help stave off dementia? This is according to research from the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities. They can even heal your gut by encouraging good microbial health.

Where the magic happens

I headed down to a beautiful orchard in Medosa, California during harvest season in September to get the scoop on how we really get the walnuts from seed to supermarket. The orchard belonged to the Mid Valley Nut Company, which is one of around 100 handlers in California under the umbrella of California Walnuts, each one is in friendly competition with the others for business.

Despite its size the experience of witnessing the ‘process’ walnuts go through, it’s actually very careful and meticulous. There are three simple steps – and nothing goes to waste. Great news for environmentalists out there.

The soft, outer casing, called the hull, goes back into compost use adding nutrients back in to soil. Some hullers wetter it into a soup-like consistency and then plough it back into field. Next, the hard shells go into various productions including face scrub, road base, landscaping material (where you won’t walk barefoot!) and so much more.

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Deni Kirkova
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