With autumn well underway, it is important to eat for the season – walnuts are one of our favorite ways to do so. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we think of this as a time when the utmost yang energy of the summer begins to transition into the ultimate yin energy of the winter. Our yang energy begins to turn inward as we prepare for cold weather.
This season is associated with the Metal element and the Lung system, which is directly related to our respiratory systems (check out our latest blog on breathing exercises for autumn), immunity, skin, and the emotion of sadness. This is a time when cooler temperatures and dry winds of autumn may cause sore throats, dry nose, and coughs. These seasonal changes make it important for us to nourish our bodies with foods that can warm, strengthen, and moisten our organs, blood, and body fluids.
Now is the time for warm, cooked foods – save those salads and smoothies for the summer. Cooked foods are easier on the digestive system and help us to conserve energy and further protect ourselves from illness. Foods that are steamed or cooked at low temperatures for long periods of time help to nourish yin – the fluids of our body, which are imperative for optimal health. Soups, stews, and congee are great examples.
As we’ve mentioned, this is the season of the Lungs and we want to keep them nourished during this dry and windy time. Eating foods that generate fluids and moisten the Lungs is an integral part of fall nutrition. Foods such as pears, apples, persimmons, figs, pumpkins, nuts and seeds are good to keep on hand.
One of our favorite foods for the season is walnuts. In TCM, walnuts have a multitude of health benefits. They tonify the Kidneys which, according to TCM, are responsible for maintaining brain functioning. Walnuts strengthen muscles by nourishing the blood, relieve asthma by warming the Lungs, aid in digestion, and have sweet and warming properties, which means they are great for fall.
Nutritionally, walnuts provide a lot micronutrients, including potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc, copper, vitamins B9, B6, E, and A. Walnuts also contain substantial amounts of dietary fiber, which can help to ease constipation. In addition, they are full of essential fatty acids like linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid.
How to Eat More Walnuts:
Freshly shelled walnuts taste great eaten raw or cooked. Chop them up small and eat with a baked apple or pear or add them to your baked goods – breads, muffins, and cookies. Roast them as an appetizer or add them to a grain dish – like rice, quinoa or pasta.
How to Roast Walnuts:
Spread them onto a baking sheet and place them in the oven for a few minutes (until lightly brown). To toast them, place them in a skillet with a little bit of oil.
Walnut oil is another way to get the essential fatty acids (but not the fiber). Walnut oil is wonderful in salad but does not react well to heating, so it’s not recommended for cooking.
A Note About Storage
Because of their high fat content, walnuts turn rancid quickly. Chopped or ground walnuts turn rancid more easily than walnuts in the shell. If they are stored in a cool place in the shell, you can keep them for up to a year. If you prefer to buy them unshelled, store them in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place. You do not want to keep them for more than a month.
Have questions about other ways to support your system this season? Click here to book a virtual wellness appointment today.