Are Walnuts the New Superfood?

In an era where the spinach has e.coli and the fish are laced with mercury, it’s hard to be a health food. But walnuts may just be the new superfood on the horizon. It seems that walnuts – that same food you chop up and put into your fattening brownies – can actually help prevent heart disease.

You may have heard the phrase “hardening of the arteries,” but what does it really mean? Doctors say that every time we eat a fatty meal, our arteries become inflamed. Over time, that can cause our arteries to be less flexible as we age. This lack of elasticity, or “hardening” if you will, contributes to heart disease and blockages.

But new studies show that walnuts can help prevent or slow down this process. “Walnuts contain natural chemicals that help prevent hardening of the arteries, making them less prone to becoming blocked,” said Dr. Emilio Ros, of the Hospital Clinico in Barcelona and lead researcher of the study.

Experimental groups eating a fatty meal were asked to follow it with either five teaspoons of olive oil or a handful of shelled walnuts. Both the olive oil and the walnuts helped prevent sudden oxidation and inflammation of the arteries. But walnuts helped more.

Researchers used ultra-sound to show that the flexibility of the arteries of the walnut eaters was actually preserved – the olive oil didn’t do that.

This may be because walnuts contain a high concentration of an important amino-acid known as arginine. Arginine is a necessary ingredient to keeping our arteries flexible and healthy. But that’s not the only thing walnuts have that make it a potential superfood. Walnuts are also rich in anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acid. Plus, walnuts are tasty.

Admittedly, more studies will need to be done before we can add walnuts to our list of superfoods. This is especially the case since the California Walnut Board helped fund the study, and we should take it with a grain of salt. It’s also not clear whether or not cooking the walnuts change their heart-healthy properties. Moreover, even though the researchers recommended eating about eight walnuts a day, their study showed that the beneficial effects were realized by eating walnuts immediately after a fatty meal. Whether or not the same benefit applies when eating walnuts randomly during the day has not yet been established.

But when you’re baking this holiday season, you may want to load those brownies up with plenty of walnuts. You might be blessing someone’s heart on every level!

Food Riots in Egypt

Not everyone knows, because it’s not necessarily front-page news, but there have been riots in Egypt recently in response to rising food prices. Egypt’s poor, before this crisis, could barely afford to eat. Their main staples were bread, beans and rice. Now, prices have tripled to the point that even middle-class families are struggling to buy enough of these staples to feed their families. I watched a news report in which a woman sat holding a picture of her husband who was recently murdered for a few pieces of bread. He carried no money, had on ordinary clothes. But he had something that many people can no longer afford. He had bread. Three young men attacked and murdered him. His wife, speaking about the attack, said that she understands very well why they killed her husband. Simply put: They were hungry.

This is, to me, an unthinkable outrage! No, the murder isn’t the outrage. The outrage is the fact that Egypt is an Islamic country. There is a mosque on nearly every city block. With that many mosques, one would think there would be plenty of Muslims around. So, where are the Muslims?

Muslims are required by God to give in charity. During the first or second caliphate after the death of Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him, the people gave so much in charity that there was no one left to take their food and their money. People would travel from town to town asking for someone to take their zakat, but no one could. The playing field had been LEVELED. How? you may ask. It’s very simple. God commanded that we give 2.5%, that’s just two and a half percent, of our accumulated wealth to the care of the poor. That’s not 2.5% of our gross income. It’s 2.5% of that wealth that we have retained through the course of a year. There is also a percentage of the grain we grow and the cattle (meat) that we raise. If each Muslim were to give his or her required charity, there would be no hungry people in Egypt. There would be no riots. There would be no murders for food. So I ask again: Where are the Muslims?

The rising food costs are being caused by the rise in the price of oil, which has more than tripled in the past year or so. That is the apparent cause of this crisis. BUT! This crisis could have been prevented if we had all given what God has commanded that we give. Now, our brothers and sisters in Islam are starving and suffering. It’s time that we give. Pull from your savings. Hold a fundraiser. Donate to your mosque and request the imam to send the money to the poor in Egypt. It’s time we pull together and show the world what we can do.