ATTRIBUTES: Walnuts' healthy combination of fat, protein and fiber in a small package makes them a satisfying snack, and a good replacement for sugary or salty treats. One ounce of walnuts provides almost half your daily recommended allowance of manganese, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 2.5 grams of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
SUPERPOWERS: Research indicates that consuming tree nuts, including walnuts, may help reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer, and may also help stave off type 2 diabetes and keep the brain healthy. Despite the fact that nuts are "energy dense," the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that those who ate at least a quarter-ounce of tree nuts per day had a lower weight, body mass index and waist circumference that those who didn't eat nuts.
WEAKNESSES: Walnuts contain a high percentage of fat, and they can turn rancid if they're stored in humid, warm conditions. Store in the shell for several months or store shelled nuts in the refrigerator for up to six months.
HOW TO USE IT: Legendary Moosewood Cookbook author Mollie Katzen's Favorite Walnut Recipes — all 70 of them— are available in a free downloadable cookbook online at walnuts.org under the "How To" tab. Here's her Walnut Pesto: Blend 3 packed cups fresh basil and three large cloves of garlic in food processor. Add cup lightly toasted walnuts and blend until finely ground. Keep machine running and drizzle in cup extra virgin olive oil. When mixture is smooth, transfer to a bowl, stir in cup grated Parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.