Top 10 Benefits of Eating Walnuts
Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.
I eat at least one handful of nuts every day—among my favorites are walnuts! What’s not to love? They are delicious, full of healthy fats, and they make a great addition to any healthy diet.
Walnuts are among the most consumed nuts on the planet—and the walnut tree is considered to be the oldest tree in the world. In fact, the walnut has been cultivated since 7000 B.C.
There are a number of varieties of walnuts. The black walnut is thicker and harder to crack. The white walnut is sweeter with an oilier taste and texture. The walnuts you likely eat are known as the English or Persian walnut (Juglans regia). It is the most popular walnut in the U.S., and it has a thinner shell that is easier to crack.
Like most nuts, walnuts are extremely nutrient dense. They are a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They contain over a dozen phenolic acids and are filled with phytonutrients, including quinone juglone—studies show this phytonutrient is effective in killing cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.
Walnuts are also an excellent source of antioxidants, including ellagic acid, which helps protect the cells from free radical damage. They have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties, including the flavonol morin and tannins tellimagrandin and ellagitannins. Just a quarter-cup (30 g) of walnuts provides more than the daily recommended value of omega-3 fatty acids your body requires.
Walnuts also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid that is often praised for its heart protective and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Needless to say, walnuts should be included in any healthy diet!
Walnut Nutrition Chart (For a Handful, or 1/4Cup of Walnuts)
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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You may notice in the walnuts nutrition chart that walnuts are high in calories. But the fact is you likely will only consume a small amount each day, and they are loaded with important nutrients that contain often overlooked health benefits.
Nutritional Value of Walnuts
The first amazing benefit of walnuts is that they are a great source of monounsaturated fats that help combat obesity—and they should be included in a weight management program. Walnuts are known to help control appetite by reducing satiety hormones.
Walnuts are also a common food in the Mediterranean diet. In a randomized, prospective 2001 study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, researchers discovered that a Mediterranean diet could help improve weight loss.
The 18-month study included 101 overweight women and men. After the study, the average weight loss was over nine pounds. Participants saw a decreased body mass index of 3.5 pounds, and a smaller waist circumference of 6.9 cm.
1. Helps with Weight Loss
A walnut looks like a brain…it is not a coincidence that walnuts can help improve your brain function as well. The high omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts are responsible for this nut’s positive cognitive effect.
In a recent cross-sectional study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, University of California researchers suggested that adults who consistently consume walnuts could improve their cognitive function. Study participants between 20 to 90 years of age completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Adults between the ages of 20 to 59 consumed 10.3 g of walnuts daily and adults 60 and older consumed 13.1 g of walnuts daily.
The ALA levels found in walnuts are also beneficial. The body converts this essential omega-3 fatty acid into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). In a 2010 article published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers suggested DHA has a protective effect on the brain that reduces certain substances that promote Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2011 animal study, researchers discovered that there was an increase of serotonin levels in rats who consumed walnuts during the 28-day trial.
2. Improves Memory and Prevents Dementia
The walnut is also a great nut to help treat symptoms of depression. Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency has long been associated with treating mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.
The long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, DHA, is the omega-3 component that plays a vital role in brain function. In a number of studies, omega-3 is shown to have a positive impact in bipolar disorder patients.
3. Better Your Mood
The dietary polyunsaturated fats found in walnuts are also associated with improving the metabolic parameters in type 2 diabetics. In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers concluded that the high dietary fat in walnuts could significantly lower fasting insulin levels.
The year-long study observed 50 overweight adults with type 2 diabetes, who had an average age of 54. Random participants consumed 30 g of walnuts per day. In the first three months of the study, the walnut group produced greater fasting insulin level reductions than the control group. Another study found a correlation between walnut consumption and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
4. Helps Prevent and Manage Diabetes
The addition of walnuts to a diet can also help improve cardiovascular health, and help reduce cholesterol levels. People who consume a diet rich in the essential omega-3 fatty acid ALA are less likely to suffer from a heart attack. In a 2007 study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, researchers concluded that eating four walnuts daily can increase levels of ALA in the blood.
A review also found that daily walnut consumption could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The peer-reviewed studies included in the review consistently linked walnuts with lower blood cholesterol concentrations and a heart-healthy diet. Walnuts also contain the amino acid l-arginine—this amino acid benefits people who have an increased risk of heart disease.
5. Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Walnuts can also lower the risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer. In an animal study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers discovered that when mice were fed 100 g of fat from walnuts, walnut oil, and other oils for an 18-week period, each mouse had a reduced prostate tumor growth in the transgenic adenocarcinoma of the prostate.
Overall, the walnut diet could reduce prostate tumor growth by 30% to 40%. In another 2011 animal study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, researchers concluded that walnut consumption could help reduce the risk of breast cancer. A couple of handfuls of walnuts daily helped slow tumor growth by 50%, and cut the breast cancer risk in half.
In a Nurses’ Health Study that included 75,680 women, researchers discovered that frequent nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer in women.
6. Lowers Cancer Risk
Walnuts are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, which helps promote quality sleep. They also contain the hormone melatonin, which helps induce and regulate sleep. In a 2005 study published in the journal Nutrition, walnuts were found to increase melatonin levels in the blood when fed to rats. Prepare for a restful sleep by adding a handful of walnuts to your dinner!
7. Induces Healthy Sleep
The vitamin E found in walnuts acts as a protective antioxidant against harmful free radicals, which helps to maintain skin health. Walnuts also contain a complex of B vitamins that help improve skin quality. The ALA omega-3 fatty acid and phytonutrients found in walnuts can further improve the quality and texture of your skin.
8. Improves Skin Quality
The omega-3 fatty acid content in walnuts is also associated with decreased joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. A 2010 study indicated that omega-3 could improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. In a 2014 study published in the journal Toxicology and Industrial Health, walnut extract was among the natural health products that were beneficial in treating chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
9. Improves Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Feeling stressed out? Munch on some walnuts. The ALA omega-3 fatty acid, antioxidants, and fiber found in walnuts are responsible for stress relief. In particular, eating a regular handful of walnuts can positively affect the blood pressure response to stress. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers suggested that the ALA omega-3 content found in walnuts would help improve response to stress.
Study participants who consumed walnuts and walnut oil significantly saw a decrease in resting blood pressure and blood pressure response to stress. In the study, 22 adults with high LDL (low density lipoprotein) levels consumed diets with walnuts and walnut oil.
10. Great for Stress Relief
Other health benefits of eating walnuts include improving male fertility, bone health, psoriasis, athlete’s foot, eczema, and the quality of hair. Pregnant women can also reduce the risk of their baby developing food allergies when walnuts are added to the diet. Eating walnuts are said to help prevent against hair loss and dandruff. Black walnut is often used in the treatment of candida.
Keep in mind that walnuts are best when stored in an airtight container, and put into the refrigerator. They last for six months in the refrigerator or a year in the freezer.
How should you eat walnuts?
I like to eat them as a snack, but they can also replace croutons in a salad. Sometimes I throw them in the blender to make smoothies or a pesto. Finally, before you indulge with eating walnuts, it is best to soak them in water for at least three hours in the refrigerator. That way you can make walnut butter as a healthy spread. (It also makes a great addition to desserts!)
Other Health Benefits of Eating Walnuts