Health benefits of walnuts include reduction of bad cholesterol in the body, improvement in metabolism and control of diabetes. Other important health benefits of walnuts stem from the fact that these nuts possess anti-inflammatory properties, aid in weight management and helps as a mood enhancer. They are also believed to slow down the spread of cancer.
What are Walnuts? Walnuts are edible seeds from the trees of the Juglans genus. They are round, single-seeded fruits of the walnut tree. The fruit and the seed of the walnut are enclosed in a thick, inedible husk. The shell of the fruit that encloses the kernel is hard and two-halved. The seed of the walnut fruits contain significant amount of nutrients such as proteins, EFA's (essential fatty acids), carbohydrates, vitamins and essential minerals.
Walnuts have always been considered as ‘Brain Food’, as the surface structure of the walnut has a crinkly appearance like that of the brain. Due to this reason, they have been considered as a symbol of intellectuality leading to the belief that walnuts actually increase one’s intellect. While this is not exactly true, later scientific studies have proven that consumption of walnuts do help in promoting the brain function. Walnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids which increase the activity of the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids coupled with iodine and selenium add to optimum functioning of the brain.
Accompanying their delicious taste, walnuts have anti-oxidants and proteins which help in imparting a multitude of health benefits. Walnuts are also a delicious supplement and therefore can be easily included in anyone’s diet. Walnuts are also considered as ‘Power food’ as these are believed to improve body stamina.
Walnuts have been known to mankind for a long time. Some interesting facts about walnuts are:
Walnut trees have been known to mankind since 7000 BC
Two-thirds of the world’s walnut production happens in California
One can see crinkles in walnuts both inside and outside
Nutrition facts about Walnuts
Nutritional value in walnuts includes energy of 190 cal in 1 ounce or 30 g of walnuts.
Carbohydrate content in walnuts per 1 ounce is 4 g.
Protein found in 1 ounce walnuts is 4 g.
The total fat content found in 1 ounce of walnuts is 18 g which includes both unsaturated fats and saturated fats.
Dietary fiber found in walnuts is about 2 g per 1 ounce.
The minerals found in walnuts include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
Vitamins include vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin K and vitamin A. Carotenoids found in walnuts includes beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Phytosterols in walnuts are about 20 mg per 1 ounce.
Health Benefits of WalnutsThere are several health benefits of walnuts. The important ones established by research over the years are listed below.
Improvement in heart function: Walnuts are rich in omega-3 and are an ample source of monounsaturated fatty acids (72%) like oleic acid. It also contains EFAs like linoleic acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and arachidonic acids. Scientific studies prove that the inclusion of walnuts in any diet helps prevent coronary heart diseases by favoring healthy lipid supply. Consumption of walnuts lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase level of good cholesterol (HDL). Consumption of 25 g of walnut everyday would provide 90% of recommended daily intake (RDI) of EFAs which in turn lowers the risk of blood pressure, heart diseases.
Improved bone health: EFAs from walnuts secure the bone health of the body. These increase calcium absorption and deposition while reducing urinary calcium excretion.
Improved metabolism: One of the health benefits of walnuts consumption is that it improves the metabolism in the body. Walnuts, along with EFAs provide minerals to the body. Minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium are provided by walnuts. These minerals help contribute to metabolism activities like growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.
Control of diabetes: People suffering from diabetes can have walnuts on a regular basis without any significant weight gain as walnuts contain high amount of poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats. The intake of nuts is inversely proportional to the risk of developing type II diabetes.
Fight against cancer: Some of the components present in walnuts have the capability to control the growth of cancer cells in the body. The phenolic compounds and antioxidants found in walnuts recorded a control on human cancer cells.
Anti-inflammatory properties: The polyphenolic compounds and phytochemical substances found in walnuts reduce the effects of inflammation in the body.
Vitamins: Rich in gamma-tocopherol, walnuts are also a good source of vitamin E which is also a strong lipid soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E present in walnut helps in maintaining and protecting skin from oxidants that are harmful in nature. They are also an important source of B-complex vitamins such as folate, niacin, riboflavin, panthothenic acid, and vitamin B-6.
Bio-available melatonin: Want a good night’s sleep? Eat some walnuts soaked in water before sleeping. Melatonin, a hormone that helps induce and regulate sleep is available in walnuts in bio-available form. Thus, walnuts help make a perfect dinner. As long as you eat them separately from other nutrients (SEE phytic acid).
Weight management: The amount of fat, calories and carbohydrate content found in walnuts is about 18 g, 190 cal, and 4 g respectively per 1 ounce of serving. So, it is believed that walnuts consumption may result in weight-gain. But, research conducted has shown that walnut consumption of about 35 g per day did not yield any significant weight gain among tested individuals over a period of 1 year.
Mood enhancer: Scientific study indicates that lack of omega-3 fatty acids (provided by walnuts) cause hyperactivity, irritability and tantrums. Supplementing children’s diet with walnuts compensates the deficit in EFA's and alleviates their mood. It is even applicable to adults who are battling depression and stress.
Astringent properties: Walnut oils have significant astringent properties. Walnut oil has a rich, nutty flavor that helps bring aroma and flavor to the food. This flavor gives a pleasant taste only when the walnut oil is used in moderation. It is used as carrier/base oil in various therapies like aroma therapy, massage therapy, aromatherapy, in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. A 35gm serving of walnut oil provides the same nutritional benefits as 50gm walnuts. They also provide significant levels of Vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-3.