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Walnuts, which are scientifically dubbed Juglans, are round, single-seeded nuts contained in a hard, inedible shell. Although walnuts are primarily cultivated in China, Iran, and Turkey, they’re available domestically year-round. A wonderful source of beneficial fats, protein, and fiber, walnuts are an incredibly nutritious addition to your diet. Walnuts can be enjoyed raw, roasted, whole, atop salads, in baked goods, and beyond. Take a look at some of the fabulous health benefits walnuts could contribute to your life.
Important Note: All of the potential health benefits of regularly consuming walnuts listed below are based on the most current scientific research at the time of this publication.
Walnuts are called a superfood for a good reason; they’re one of the most nutrient-dense nuts with tons of health benefits. For starters, walnuts are made up of lots of good fats, tons of protein, and very few carbohydrates. Notably, walnuts contain about 65% fat composition but most of the calories come from this fat content; as such, walnuts are an energy-dense food. They also contain a high content of omega-3 fatty acids which have many health benefits as you’ll see below. Better yet, a serving of walnuts, which is approximately 14 halves, contains nearly two grams of fiber as well as copper, folic acid, phosphorus, vitamin B6, manganese, and vitamin E. Some of the significant health benefits of these vitamins and minerals include supporting heart, brain, bone, nervous system, immune, and fetal health. Barring any nut allergies, walnuts are a great source of many useful nutrients and should be incorporated into your diet.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. There’s no debating the science when it comes to walnuts; they’re called a superfood for a reason. Walnuts contain hefty amounts of vitamins and minerals as well as the ever-important omega-3 fatty acids.
Promotes Heart Health
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet are great ways to limit the likelihood of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Incorporating nuts, specifically walnuts, into your diet is a great way to improve your vitamin and mineral intake. What’s more, some of the nutrients in walnuts specifically target heart health. For starters, walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids known as alpha-linolenic acid which is scientifically connected to heart health. In fact, some studies suggest that for every one gram of alpha-linolenic acid you consume per day, your risk of dying from heart-related diseases decreases by 10%. Moreover, walnuts are full of antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols ward off free radicals, inflammation, and oxidative stress, all of which are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
What’s more, walnuts contribute to the healthy bacteria in your gut; a healthy gut is also supportive of heart health. Some studies suggest that walnuts may even lower blood pressure; as well-balanced blood pressure is integral to heart health, this is yet another way walnuts promote a healthy ticker. One study revealed that participants on a nut-rich diet experienced a decrease in their diastolic blood pressure; this decrease was not observed in participants not participating in the nut-rich diet. Lastly, walnuts have been scientifically observed to lower cholesterol levels, the result of which is a decreased risk of experiencing cardiovascular disease. A 1.5-ounce serving of walnuts has been consistently linked to a decrease in harmful cholesterol and triglycerides which is advantageous to heart health.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Many components of the walnut’s makeup have been consistently linked to overall heart health in scientific studies.
Contain Anti-Cancer Properties
A cancer diagnosis can be devastating but you can reduce your risk of getting particular cancers by leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy diet. Enter: walnuts. Walnuts are rife with bioactive compounds that are anti-cancerous. Some of the compounds found in walnuts that have anti-cancer properties include phytosterols, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidant polyphenols among others. Studies have shown that regular consumption of nuts reduce one’s risk of colon, prostate, breast, and kidney cancers. Interestingly, some gut microbes convert the polyphenols in walnuts to special compounds called urolithins; urolithins have anti-inflammatory properties as well as properties that act as hormones to reduce the risk for cancers that are caused by hormonal defects. Taken together, walnuts have many anti-carcinogenic properties that can reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Thousands of scientific studies tout the anti-cancer effects of a diet rich in nuts.
Supports Brain Health
Many studies point to a nut-rich diet improving overall brain health. From slowing age-related dementia to helping with symptoms of depression, eating nuts contributes to all facets of brain health. In fact, one study of older adults revealed that making walnuts a part of one’s diet significantly improved memory function. In a study of younger adults, regular consumption of walnuts lead to improved comprehension, faster processing speed, and better mental flexibility. It’s believed that the high antioxidant content as well as the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts is responsible for improvements in brain health.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Essentially, walnuts contain many nutrients that have long been credited with improving brain function.
Rich in Antioxidants
Walnuts are incredibly rich in antioxidants the likes of which are ever-present in the edible brown skin that coats these tasty nuts. They are so high in these powerful compounds that one study ranked walnuts the number two most antioxidant-rich food out of over 1,000 foods. Walnuts contain four powerful antioxidants each of which provides its own set of health benefits. Ellagic acid is found in high doses in walnuts; this antioxidant is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Catechin is a flavonoid, a type of antioxidant, found in walnuts that is associated with heart health. Melatonin which is associated with regulating your body clock and phytic acid which is associated with a balanced diet are both also contained in walnuts as well. Rife with antioxidants, choosing walnuts as a snack is a smart, health-conscious choice.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. As one of the top-ranking foods for antioxidant richness, walnuts surely provide a host of health benefits.
Excellent Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Another wise reason to include walnuts in your diet is that they’re fraught with omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, walnuts are higher than any other nut in omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, walnuts contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, a compound that is solely derived from one’s diet. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume as much as 1.6 grams of alpha-linolenic acid per day which can be easily achieved in a single daily serving of walnuts. Best of all, as previously noted, eating the recommended serving of alpha-linolenic acid drastically reduces one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. As one of the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are one of the most nutritious nuts to consume.
Good For Weight Management
Walnuts are inevitably a good food to eat for weight loss and management. Low in calories, packed with healthy fats, and containing few carbohydrates per serving, walnuts are a sage choice for snacking or incorporating into mealtime recipes. What’s more, walnuts are packed with protein which reduces hunger causing you to eat fewer calories in the long run. One interesting study fueled obese subjects with one walnut smoothie per day for five days and discovered those subjects experienced decreased appetite and an increase in self-control when it came to resisting tempting foods. Besides being a mindful diet choice, walnuts may even contribute chemically to controlling your appetite and temptations.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. Although walnuts are a good diet choice because they’re highly nutritious, there are only a handful of studies linking the nutrients in walnuts to chemically addressing appetite.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
Supports Male Reproductive Health
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. While one interesting study suggests that regular walnut intake may increase sperm function, much more research is needed to make this connection conclusively.
Helps Manage Type 2 Diabetes
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. While it’s true that walnuts are full of polyphenols that reduce inflammation and inflammation is surely one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, many other risk factors might lead to a diabetes diagnosis.