I've spent much time writing about how important nuts are in our diets: how studies show they fight chronic disease and DO NOT cause weight gain, and of course how nuts are loaded with fiber...
But I just ran across this study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2009) that reviewed no less than 13 studies on walnut consumption. Researchers found that walnut consumption lowered both total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol significantly, compared with people who did not consume walnuts regularly. They also found that walnuts provided significant benefits for certain antioxidant capacity and inflammatory markers and had no adverse effects on body weight.
In other words, walnuts not only lower cholesterol, but have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that fight cancer, plaque formation and other chronic disease. All that, and they don't cause weight gain, but often the opposite since they are so high in protein and fiber.
I add walnut pieces every morning to my oatmeal, and I always add them to salads. I'm sure there are other creative ways to incorporate walnuts into our daily regime (besides just munchin' on them). If you have ideas, let me know.
On another note, I would like to state my opinion on whole flaxseed verses ground flaxseed. We constantly hear that since flaxseeds are so small, our body doesn't digest them and we do not gain the benefits of their Omega-3 fatty acids and lignan antioxidants.
I disagree, and I'll tell you why.
I bought a coffee grinder and ground flaxseeds so I could get the full benefits myself. What I noticed immediately was that the ground flaxseed immediately lost its oil. The oil (where the Omega-3 fatty acids are) is located on the outside of the seed. So even if we were not to digest (or chew) every flaxseed, our body still removes the oil from the outside as it passes through our digestive tract, and viola, we have our Omega-3.
Now I'm back to adding whole flaxseed to my oatmeal (with walnuts - as well as cinnamon, raisins, dried coconut and honey - yum!).