I happen to really like walnuts. I like everything about them: their flavor, their crunchy, yet smooth, texture and I admire how they come out of the shell looking like a human brain. I don’t know why I find this interesting.

I always got walnuts and oranges in my Christmas stocking. I couldn’t figure out that tradition either. However, it just might be an Irish tradition because I once read an article where John Kennedy Jr. was quoted as saying that he always got walnuts and oranges in his stocking and he had never figured it out, either. So I guess I’m in good company on that mystery.

A bowl of nuts to crack along with a nutcracker and nut picks was on the coffee table every Christmas season. I grew up eating them and grew fond of them.

What I didn’t know was what was in them. I did some research and after I had read the research, I immediately reached for the laptop and ordered another pound for me and my African greys. Walnuts don’t just taste good, they have so many beneficial properties for your flock, I cannot even begin to name them all here.

Behind the Walnut

Walnuts, like Brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and pistachios, are tree nuts. Unlike various beans, which, despite appearances, are fairly equal in their beneficial aspects, nuts all have a unique nutritional composition.

You might have noticed that some of the simplest and plain foods have the most bang for your nutritional buck. Let me assure you, walnuts are in that class.

Okay, I got to eat them at Christmas time. But I had no idea my body was being inundated with omega-3 fatty acids, high amounts of copper, molybdenum, manganese and biotin as well as being bombarded with absolutely unreal amounts of unique and really powerful antioxidants that are incredibly efficient at going after free radicals. It was referred to in the article as “Free Radical Scavenging.”

Researchers referred to these particular antioxidants as, “remarkable.” When I read the words, “Free Radical Scavenging,” I pictured antioxidants as the little guys in the Pac-Man game ramming around and devouring the gunslingers.

One study went so far as to say that high antioxidant foods like walnuts have the ability to decrease our susceptibility to this ongoing stress caused by oxidation occurring in aging. It also talks about walnuts being able to “enhance cognitive and motor function in aging.” Are they hinting a bit at slowing down the aging process?

Walnuts also contain a lot of other good-for-you items: Vitamin E, melatonin, omega 3 of course, and then again we’ve got all those Pac-Man antioxidants running around making mincemeat out of the free radicals.

What’s not to like about a walnut?

Note: Walnuts should be part of a balanced diet for your bird. Talk to your avian veterinarian about the best diet for your bird.

Patricia Sund is the creative director of Bird Talk Magazine, and has written for a variety of avicultural-themed publications, including Bird Talk, the Bird Talk Annual, Birds USA, Phoenix Landing’s Phoenix Beakin’ and Watchbird magazine for the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA). She lives in Florida with her three African grey parrots, Parker, Pepper and Nyla, stars of the popular column, “Memo to Parker & Pepper.”

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