Black vs. English Walnuts

Black vs. English Walnuts
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A dramatic difference exists between the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of black walnuts versus English walnuts.

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The best way to keep and consume walnut oil is within the walnut itself. But, which is better for cardiovascular disease protection? Black walnuts, or English, (also known as common walnuts)?

Regular “English walnuts have been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease risk; however, black walnuts do not appear to have not been studied for their cardioprotective” benefits—until now. Maybe black are even better? Who do you think won the contest? Three choices: black best; English best; or the same.

I would have guessed black, just based on their rich flavor and color. But, I would have been wrong. English best, and I’ll show you why.

They both tended to lower cholesterol. But, when participants were given a meal containing “a sandwich with…salami and…cheese on…white bread smeared with” two spoonfuls of butter along with…yogurt”—and then a big handful of black or English walnuts, something very different happened.

When we whack our arteries with that kind of load of saturated animal fat, our blood vessels immediately, within hours, become inflamed and stiff. You eat English walnuts with the salami sandwich, though, and they’re so packed with anti-inflammatory goodness that you significantly lessen the impact.

“Black walnuts, however, did not improve endothelial function [the cells of the arterial lining], which can be explained by nutritional differences between the nuts. English walnuts [for example] have nearly 10 times as much antioxidant capacity as black.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to rawsomehealthy.com and xtinabot via flickr

The best way to keep and consume walnut oil is within the walnut itself. But, which is better for cardiovascular disease protection? Black walnuts, or English, (also known as common walnuts)?

Regular “English walnuts have been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease risk; however, black walnuts do not appear to have not been studied for their cardioprotective” benefits—until now. Maybe black are even better? Who do you think won the contest? Three choices: black best; English best; or the same.

I would have guessed black, just based on their rich flavor and color. But, I would have been wrong. English best, and I’ll show you why.

They both tended to lower cholesterol. But, when participants were given a meal containing “a sandwich with…salami and…cheese on…white bread smeared with” two spoonfuls of butter along with…yogurt”—and then a big handful of black or English walnuts, something very different happened.

When we whack our arteries with that kind of load of saturated animal fat, our blood vessels immediately, within hours, become inflamed and stiff. You eat English walnuts with the salami sandwich, though, and they’re so packed with anti-inflammatory goodness that you significantly lessen the impact.

“Black walnuts, however, did not improve endothelial function [the cells of the arterial lining], which can be explained by nutritional differences between the nuts. English walnuts [for example] have nearly 10 times as much antioxidant capacity as black.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to rawsomehealthy.com and xtinabot via flickr

Doctor's Note

The anti-inflammatory power of nuts is really quite astonishing. Check out my video, Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell. Why are meat and dairy inflammatory? Check out my videos exploring the mystery: The Leaky Gut Theory of Why Animal Products Cause InflammationThe Exogenous Endotoxin Theory; and Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia. I also give an abbreviated summary of it in my full-length live presentation, Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death

For more context, check out my associated blog post: The True Shelf Life of Cooking Oils.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

48 responses to “Black vs. English Walnuts

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  1. The anti-inflammatory power of nuts is really quite astonishing. Check out my video Fighting Inflammation in a Nutshell. Why is meat and dairy inflammatory? Check out my three videos exploring the mystery The Leaky Gut Theory of Why Animal Products Cause Inflammation, The Exogenous Endotoxin Theory, and Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia. I also give an abbreviated summary of it in my full-length “live” presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    1.  So the SAD — Standard American in Denial — will take this info and say, “Ooh, okay, so I’ll just add a handful of walnuts after my cheese-stuffed meat-lovers pizza, parmesan-cheese bread, and diet coke!”

        1.  You did! How funny :D. It reminds me of those miracle pill commercials where people claim,”I lost 30 pounds and didnt’ have to change the way I eat!” “I didn’t have to exercise!”

          They don’t even TRY to sound like it’s healthy. Shameless!

      1. That is my husband for certain, except his junk food is Bordon’s ice cream, which I won’t buy because it is made up through and through of GMO’s. So he walks to the store to buy his own. He won’t read more than a line and doesn’t want to hear anything that may be negative. Sounds like much of the American public?

      2. That is a stupid thing to say. If your not interested in keeping your health up, by all means eat what you like. Don’t look for help on you deathbed.

    2.  I have heard of black walnuts before but only in conjunction with bowel cleansing.
      Just bought some English walnuts at the market. I think I’ll go enjoy a couple before my class.

      1. I think it is black walnuts husk extractives that are used for bowel cleansing, rather than the nut meats. By the way, I think the husk extractives are potentially injurious. They are irritating on sensitive areas of the body.

  2. So glad the English or common walnuts won out…I KNOW I can’t find black walnuts easily here! And the sound of that sandwich sounded so gross…poor participants! Doubt I could even swallow it…..

  3. Hurray for English walnuts! 
    I eat an ounce (28 grams) a day for the Omega 3s and other healthful benefits. 
    It’s great when a regular, tasty food turns out to be a nutritional superfood too.

  4. What do you call John Cleese (From Monty Python) on a Castle Wall?

    An English Walnut!
    ;-}

    I had to ‘crack’ up all the ‘nutty’ness around here.

    Laughter is the best medicine, even if you didn’t laugh.

        1. http://www.diamondnuts.com/products/culinary/

          You’ll note that Diamond has both black walnuts and ‘walnuts’, separately listed and illustrated.

          So, your statement that Diamond nuts are black walnuts is not correct.

          On the black walnuts page, under the heading ‘Benefits’, appears this statement: “Black walnuts have more protein than English walnuts and contain arachidonic fatty acid.” I sort of thought arachidonic acid was a bad thing. I’ll look it up, but it might be nice if, in the meantime, someone who knows would put an indication here in reply.

  5. So glad to know this.  I was just enjoying my salad topped with English walnuts as your email popped onto my screen.  I enjoyed it even more after listening to the conclusion.

  6. I’m relieved to hear this. I used to live on a property with many black walnut trees but we didn’t bother eating the nuts because the shells are much harder than English walnuts and you have to use a sledgehammer to crack them, which of course then smashes your nut. Also the nuts are much smaller than the English variety and have almost no flavour. So that is why black walnuts are hard to find.

    1. Black walnuts definitely have a flavour. I prefer it to that of English walnuts. The shells can easily be cracked with a vice. To make retrieving the nutmeats easiest, It helps to know at what angle to place the nut in the vice.

  7. Seems to make sense as black walnuts are literally “tough nuts to crack”. I have a black walnut tree and tried them with little luck. Now I can feel good about letting the squirrels have them.

    1.  I wonder how the squirrel’s get inside.  Must be some mighty powerful jaws??

      Thanks Kate Scott and Memc66 for the additional info on black walnuts.  I had never heard of them before.

  8. A year ago I heard a historian of medicine talk about folk practice in Great Britain. The women used to pick the spring leaves of the black walnut tree and crush and rub the leaves into the palms of the hands or other soft skin areas. The belief is that there are compounds transmitted into the bloodstream that provide protection against breast cancer for up to one year. Apparently the compounds are contained only in the leaves of the black walnut tree. 

    1. Never heard of them! I had to look them up! Nuts.com has them and the reviews look good. I wonder how they rate in this black vs english contest?!

    1. Both English and Black Walnuts are found at Nuts.com. But, now that we know the difference, be certain to ask for English walnuts. I will, everywhere I make purchases.

    2. I get mine at Whole Foods, sometimes Natural Grocer if they have it
      organic raw, otherwise I get them online. I try to always have a supply
      of different raw nuts and seeds so that I can make last minute meals (I
      hate to plan :), I enjoy being spontaneous with myself :P

  9. Question about nuts: Have the nutrition facts of RAW (wal)nuts vis a vis BAKED (as in a cake) or ROASTED (wal)nuts been studied? Are they healthier? Are baked or roasted nuts unhealthy (as some claim)?

  10. Black walnuts and English walnuts are both grown in the USA. “The English walnut originated in Persia (now Iran). Commercially
    produced varieties are nearly all hybrids of the English walnut. The Northern California black walnut is primarily used as the rootstock for English walnut cultivars.
    California produces 99 percent of the nation’s commercial English
    walnuts with almost all production taking place in the Sacramento and
    San Joaquin valleys..”

    More about English walnuts at:

    http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/nuts/english-walnuts/

  11. Frankly, I like the taste of black walnuts; I don’t really like the taste of english walnuts.

    Black walnuts are much easier to find. You just take a walk in the woods in late Sep to early Oct, and look for the distinctive leaves and distinctive bark of the black walnut tree. The walnuts are lying on the ground under 1/2 of these trees (each tree drops walnuts every 2 years). The trees grow wild over a large part of the USA. You don’t have to spend all day in the coal mine earning wages and then trade these for walnuts in a store. True, getting to the walnut meats is a lot of work. But cultivating english walnuts is work too. Most English walnuts trees grown in the US are grafted to black walnut root stock. I haven’t done a time and motion study, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the work-hours required to produce each kilogram of ready-to-eat, cultivated english walnuts meats is more than the work-hours needed to produce each kilogram of black walnut meats.

    1. Yes, black walnuts are much easier to find. My husband and I used to hull them in the fall, and then when the weather got too cold to do much on the farm, we would sit by the fire and crack them out. We made a little extra spending money, and we had lots to eat ourselves. They are so good baked in cakes or used to flavor ice cream. And although they are a little harder to crack than english walnuts, you can get skillful with a little practice. And even if english walnuts are better in some respects, black walnuts have their own nutritional offerings as well as being useful in herbal medicines and for dyes and even for furniture staining.

    1. Smooth shell is English/Common. They are much easier to crack and extract, and tend to have a milder flavor. Rough texture shell is Black and they cannot be opened without some mechanical device. I use a 5″ machinists vise. Black walnut shells are so tough that they are used for abrasive and polishing media in industry.

    2. That’s what I find too. I just see walnuts in the shops in London, England and wonder if I am eating the white English ones or not!

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    1. This looks an interesting comment but I can’t benefit from it because
      I don’t understand it. Sure some others will though.

  13. Well dang, as black walnuts grow all around me. I’ve even sold them to market by the truckload. But they are a terrible chore to get out of the shell.

  14. I have never seen an English walnut tree. We have Black walnut trees in abundance in the Midwest. I’ve eaten both and the Black walnut tastes better: Black walnut ice cream or chopped up in a cake or muffins, etc. The shell is much harder to crack.

  15. Oh thank goodness! I was sure you were going to say that black walnuts were best and I can’t stand black walnuts though I would probably try to eat them if they were a lot better.

  16. Black walnuts are probably an acquired taste if you haven’t grown up with them. We did, and I have to say they’re wicked good in home-made chocolate fudge and baked goods. If you use a vice and the right angle to open them, they’re not so difficult. Delicious!

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