Lynn Grieger

Special to the Journal

One serving of walnuts (1/4 cup of walnut pieces, or 14 walnut halves) contains no cholesterol and virtually no sodium (a measly 1 mg) and no sugar (less than 1 gram). The real nutrition news is the healthy nutrients walnuts contain: good amounts of copper, phosphorus and magnesium along with protein, fiber and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.

Compared to other common nuts, walnuts are an omega-3 powerhouse, containing ten times as much of the healthy fats than any other nut. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first ever qualified health claim for a whole food in March of 2004: "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."

Walnuts also contain several different antioxidants that promote health, and according to a 2001 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, one serving of walnuts contains more antioxidants than a glass of red wine.

Snacking on walnuts may result in eating a larger portion than you realize. To gain the health benefits of walnuts without going overboard on calorie intake, try these delicious ideas:

-Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts into your morning oatmeal or yogurt

-Toss chopped, toasted walnuts into a garden salad

-Top green beans or broccoli with chopped, toasted walnuts

-Mix chopped walnuts into your favorite rice pilaf

-Mix walnuts into a vegetable stir-fry

Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT is a health, food and fitness coach in Manchester and online at www.LynnGrieger.com. A favorite breakfast or snack is yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and granola that contains walnuts.