Walnuts: The Ultimate Health Guide

Healthy walnuts

Nuts are one of the healthiest foods you can eat! Walnuts, for example, are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, and other key compounds that help promote optimal health.

They are so nutrient-dense and beneficial for health that they are often referred to as the “king of nuts”.

From fighting free radical damage to keeping weight at a healthy level and reducing the risk of cancer, it comes as no surprise why walnuts gained this impressive reputation.

Find out in this health guide why walnuts are a worthy addition to a healthy diet as we reveal how they reduce inflammation, support weight control, prevent cancer, and a whole lot more!

We’ve also included some yummy tips on how to add them to your daily nutrition!

What are Walnuts?

Walnut refers to the nut of trees that belong to the Juglandaceae family. The seed and fruit of the walnut are enclosed in a two-halved hard shell.

Walnuts, which boast a crunchy texture and delicious flavor, are often added to cakes, cereals, cookies, energy bars, and granola. But they are especially popular in the banana walnut bread.

Walnuts are known as “brain food”, not only because of its shape that somehow resembles the brain but also due to its important compounds that help improve cognitive function.

Aside from the nut itself, other forms of walnuts such as their ground version, are also used for breaking treats. Meantime, walnut oil is prized for its supposed anti-aging properties.

Walnuts: Nutritional Value

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, walnuts are a rich source of energy, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin K, and polyunsaturated fats.

By weight, walnuts are 65 percent fat and 15 percent protein. They also contain significant amounts of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and an omega-6 linoleic acid.

Aside from these essential compounds, walnuts also contain beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are known to promote eye health, as well as phytosterols, vital nutrients that help prevent the risk of heart disease.

Walnuts are also rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants such as catechin, phytic acid, melatonin, and ellagic acid.

What are the Health Benefits of Walnuts?

Walnuts on wooden surface

Due to its health-promoting nutrients, walnuts are believed to be highly beneficial for health. Let’s explore these major walnut health benefits:

Walnuts promote heart health

One of the highly prized health benefits of walnuts is its ability to enhance heart health. Several studies found proof that walnuts reduce bad cholesterol, significantly lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A systematic review of studies further supported such a claim, concluding that the polyunsaturated fats contained in walnuts may enhance blood lipids and other risk factors for CVD.

Walnuts keep your bones healthy

The rich amounts of essential fatty acids contained in walnuts help to promote bone health. These important compounds increase calcium absorption while decreasing urinary calcium excretion.

Walnuts boost metabolism

Walnuts are chock full of EFAs and important nutrients such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. These minerals are beneficial for metabolic activities like digestion, and growth and development.

Walnuts improve brain function

Nuts are generally prized for their brain-boosting effects, and walnuts are probably best known for this. Tagged as a “brain food”, walnuts were found to enhance cognitive functions such as focus and memory.

A cross-sectional study further revealed that walnut consumption improves the brain performance of adults regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity.

The cognitive-enhancing properties of walnuts are attributed to their omega-3 fatty acids content and significant amounts of iodine and selenium.

These essential compounds were found to be beneficial in the optimum performance of the brain. Also, the polyphenols and tocopherols in walnuts decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, known risk factors for cognitive decline.  

Walnuts prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes

Nuts, in general, are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated or the good fats, dietary fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals, as well as phytonutrients that all help to lower cardiovascular and diabetes risks.

Studies revealed that nuts like walnuts make a healthy addition to diets, especially for people suffering from diabetes or at risk of developing the disease.

Incorporating walnuts into your total nutrition also helps you to achieve optimum fat intake proportions without gaining weight.

Walnuts fight free radical damage

Walnuts are also dense in antioxidants such as the quinone juglone, the flavonol morin, and the tannin tellimagrandin.

These powerful antioxidants contain antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties as well as protective effects against free radical damage.

Since these compounds help to fight oxidative damage, the risk of health conditions like liver damage caused by chemicals, and even cancer is reduced.

Walnuts reduce the risk of cancer

Aside from the antioxidant properties present in walnuts that combat free radical damage, other essential compounds found in this amazing nut also help to suppress the growth of cancer cells in the body.

These compounds, which include omega-3 fatty acids, phenolic compounds, and gamma-tocopherol, have been found to play a role in preventing breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.

Walnuts help to cleanse the digestive system

Walnuts also aid in cleaning the internal digestive tract, supporting the removal of waste and toxins from the body. They also help to relieve constipation and improve the gut’s probiotic properties.

Regular walnut consumption has been linked to enhanced amounts of Lactobacillus, Roseburia, and Ruminococcus, the good bacteria in the gut that promote its optimal function.

Walnuts prevent inflammation

Walnuts reduce inflammation too, which is a risk factor for many known illnesses such as septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and pericarditis.

The ellagic acid contained in walnuts was found to have positive effects on cardiovascular wellness and bone density.

Walnuts enhance male fertility

Men with fertility problems can also find walnut consumption helpful. One research revealed that men who added walnuts to a Western-style diet significantly enhanced their sperm vitality, morphology, and motility.

The study concluded that regular walnut consumption not only helps to increase EFAs but also micronutrients that play a major role in sperm development and function.

Walnuts promote weight loss

If you’ve got weight loss goals, you can consider walnuts your nut of choice. Walnuts are a rich source of dietary fiber, which helps to keep you satiated for longer.

Since it keeps you feeling full, you prevent unnecessary cravings and overeating. Several studies also found evidence that walnuts can indeed be beneficial for weight loss.

Walnuts prove to be a healthy snacking option, especially for vegetarians and vegans, since they also contain significant amounts of protein.

Walnuts promote healthy sleep

Having problems at night dozing off? Well, walnuts can be of help as well! Walnuts are also a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce serotonin or the neurotransmitter that is associated with melatonin levels.

Melatonin helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up. A study showed that laboratory rats fed with walnuts increased blood melatonin concentrations. The findings suggest that walnut consumption may help people with sleep troubles.

Walnuts are good for pregnant women

A great source of vitamin B-complex, walnuts also make a healthy snack for pregnant women.

This important vitamin promotes healthy pregnancy, preventing the risk of birth defects and boosting the energy of pregnant women for their growing baby.

How to Add Walnuts to a Healthy Diet?

Walnuts food

Luckily, you can add walnuts to a healthy diet in various delicious ways! Below are some yummy tips on fitting this nutritious nut into your meal plans:

  • Sprinkle some chopped walnuts to your fish or chicken recipe.

  • Dash some ground walnuts to your salads, sandwiches or any sweet and savory dish.

  • Add more flavor and texture to your desserts by incorporating chopped walnuts into them.

  • Perk up your yogurt’s taste and nutritional value by adding walnuts and berries to it!

  • Snack on roasted walnuts to reap their amazing health perks!

What are the Potential Risks of Consuming Walnuts?

Eating seven to nine walnuts on average is considered safe. But as in all things, too much consumption may have adverse effects.

People who overconsume walnuts may experience allergic symptoms, which may vary from minor to lethal. Overconsumption may also lead to bloating, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain or other digestive problems.

While they contain good fats, eating too many walnuts may also result in weight gain. Meantime, pregnant and breastfeeding women are also advised to take walnuts in moderate amounts.

It’s likewise recommended to seek your doctor’s approval if you plan on increasing its dosage if you are conceiving or nursing, have certain health conditions or are taking specific medications.

Takeaway

Walnuts are undeniably nutritious! They boast a rich nutritional profile and powerful antioxidant properties that offer amazing health perks.

Adding this nutritious nut to your diet can significantly improve your health, from reducing inflammation, giving you a healthier brain and heart to preventing your risk of cancer.

Researchers are still looking into the various ways that walnuts’ fiber and polyphenol content affect your gut health for enhanced wellness.

But while further studies are needed to be conducted to solidify walnuts’ health claims, there are still many reasons to add this nutrient-dense nut to your diet starting today!


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