Are you looking for a food that can help improve your wellness in as many ways as possible? Well, Mother Nature has blessed us by giving us an easily accessible superfood that is amazing for our minds and bodies – the walnut. They are brimming with protein, fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Walnut nutrition is substantial enough to have gotten certified by the American Heart Association as a heart healthy food.
Aside from all of the health benefits, the best thing about walnuts is how culinary versatile they can be. They are commonly used in desserts and salads to add a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture, but can also be used as a plant-based meat alternative or even a savory thickener for sauces and spreads. Additionally, walnuts are gluten-free, and work under the majority of popular diets and allergy restrictions. The versatility of walnuts has allowed them to be integrated into any type of cuisine or dishes you could think of.
Once you learn more about walnut nutrition and all of the health benefits they can give you, we will share a few different recipe ideas with you, so that you can start integrating one of the world’s healthiest foods into your diet plan.
There are 21 different varieties of walnut trees each with their own differences in size, flavor, and texture. However, no matter which variant you have, they all bring the same major health benefits. (1) The two most common walnut types are English Walnuts and Black Walnuts, with the differences being:
English Walnuts are much more common and are generally grown in orchards. These are the walnuts that most people think of when you mention walnuts as they were spread across the globe by the English. They are also more popular due to their milder taste.
“Hammons Black Walnut’s Website.” Hammons Black Walnuts.
Black Walnuts have a much richer, bolder, and earthier flavor, as they are almost entirely wild grown and harvested. Due to being wild-grown, black walnuts are more seasonal and are mostly harvested in the fall. (2) They also have thicker shells that will stain your hands when trying to crack them.
7 Amazing Health Benefits of Walnuts
Walnuts are a highly nutritional food, while also being low in carbs. For a one ounce or 28 gram serving (about 14 walnut halves) walnuts will provide you with:
- Calories: 185
- Total Fats: 18.5g
- Protein: 4.32g
- Fiber: 1.9g
- Carbohydrates: 3.89
- Sugars: 0.74g
- Vitamins and Minerals including: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin E, and vitamin K. (3)
Here is how walnut nutrition, can benefit your health:
Ryan Kelly, Jennifer. “Health Benefits of Walnuts 1.” 2021. PNG File.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are an important macronutrient for your body’s health, and a single 28g serving of walnuts can provide you with 2,570mg of it. (3) These fats are an essential part of your cell membranes and cell receptors, which are key parts in the quality of your heart health and blood flow. Including Omega-3 fats into one’s daily diet has shown to reduce the risk for heart attacks, strokes and sudden cardiac death. (4) Another benefit from consuming Omega-3 fats is that it can help control eczema, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Reduce Inflammation
Walnuts are one of the greatest sources for a type of chemical called polyphenols. The main polyphenol in walnuts is called pedunculagin, which becomes an important anti-inflammatory agent within the body. (5) Walnuts are one of the few foods that contain this polyphenol, so including it in your diet may help with inflammation when other popular methods may not be as effective. The omega-3 fats, arginine, and magnesium found in walnuts are also important anti-inflammatory nutrients. (5)
3. Supports Brain Function
The antioxidants in walnuts are also important for brain function. Some of the greatest damage done from oxidative stress can be to the brain. Walnuts help boost your interneuronal signaling and neurogenesis, which are key parts of your mental flexibility, processing ability, and memory. (6)
4. Healthy Gut
Walnut nutrition has been shown to have positive probiotic qualities, meaning that they are able to boost your stomach’s digestive power. The boost to your gastrointestinal system is through a diversification of bacteria in your stomach. Walnuts increase levels of certain bacteria that are more beneficial to the breakdown of certain compounds, resulting in you receiving more of the nutrients from your food that you would normally miss out on. (7)
5. Controls Hunger
Diet food plans include walnuts for good reason. They contain a large amount of polyunsaturated (“healthy”) fats, and have shown the ability to decrease the levels of a hunger inducing hormone called ghrelin. (8) Walnuts are also able to activate areas of the brain that contribute to feeling full, helping you to feel more satisfied after eating them.
Ryan Kelly, Jennifer. “Health Benefits of Walnuts 2.” 2021. PNG File.
6. Contains Antioxidants
Walnuts contain more antioxidants than any other nut, with high levels of vitamin E, melatonin, and polyphenols. (9) These antioxidants help protect your cells from oxidative stress damage, damage from the sun, and also helps them get rid of waste more easily.
7. Lowers Your Risk for and Managing Type 2 Diabetes
As previously mentioned, walnuts are good for people who are looking to control their hunger and lower their weight, which is beneficial to people who have or are at risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition to those benefits, studies show an 8% decrease in blood sugar when walnuts are eaten as a supplement to regular diabetes medicine. (10) Walnuts also serve as a low-carb replacement for many nutrients that can be missed in diabetes patient’s diets, such as protein and fiber.
8. Lower Cholesterol
Recent studies have shown that including walnuts in your diet can reduce your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol significantly while also providing no negative effects to one’s blood pressure or weight. (11) Another study has shown that subjects who ate 43 grams of walnuts every day were able to decrease their cholesterol levels by 5%. (12) Lowering your cholesterol can significantly decrease your odds of having future complications, and including a small amount of walnuts is one of the easiest ways to do so.
9. Reduce Risk for some Cancers
Studies have shown that the amino acids and other nutrients in walnuts have reduced the risk for colon and breast cancers to statistically significant degrees. (13) These amino acids along with other nutrients gained from the diversification of your stomach bacteria carry many anti-carcinogenic properties, and have led to the thought that regular consumption of walnuts can be beneficial to prevent these cancers. (13)
10. Healthy Aging
Everyone should know that a healthy diet plays a large role in how well your body can function over time, but studies have shown that walnuts may be a key food for older individuals. Experts have stated that just one to two servings of walnuts per week could lower your risk for both physical and mental impairments as you age. (14) One of the largest benefits of walnuts is that they help address the decrease in ability for nutrient absorption due to older age.
Interview With a Registered Associate Nutritionist, Martyna Saczuk
What are your opinions on the recent popularity of nut-based products?
I love seeing that nut-based products are becoming more popular and there’s a bigger variety of them available in supermarkets. Nuts are very nutritious as they are rich in energy, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They are a great snack which helps keep individuals full thanks to a good amount of protein, fibre, and fat. Consuming nut-based products also help to balance blood sugar! Nuts are important in vegan and vegetarian diets as they’re a great source of macro and micro nutrients, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Nut-based products are also much more nutritionally beneficial than other, highly processed alternatives.
Do you incorporate walnuts into your diet? If so, what are some of your favorite ways to integrate this superfood into your favorite dishes?
Yes, I do include walnuts in my diet because they are a great source of fat and have a good omega 3/omega 6 ratio. I usually have them in my porridge or sprinkle chopped walnuts on my salad bowls. Another great way to include walnuts is to make energy balls with dates and walnuts. I also add some cacao powder and they taste like raw brownie! Yum 🙂
Do you have any tips and tricks to help individuals maximize the benefits of walnuts?
I would say that to maximize the benefits of walnuts and to get as much nutrients as possible, it’s best to eat them in the least processed way possible…so raw. Toasting or roasting/baking could decrease the amount of certain nutrients.
“Martyna Saczuk’s Blog.” Plant Based with Marty.
Martyna is originally from Poland and moved to the United Kingdom to obtain a degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Worcester. After graduating, she started working as a nutrition consultant, where she prides herself in helping others reach their health goals. She has always had a keen interest in nutrition, but that passion grew when she decided to shift to a vegan diet in 2015. Martyna always thought that there were not enough vegan nutritionists, so she wanted to become one herself. As a vegan nutrition consultant she has helped people balance their plant-based diets and has encouraged others to improve their health by choosing a vegan lifestyle. Apart from nutrition, her other interests include cooking, baking, good coffee and running. To learn more about Martyna’s work, check out her Instagram and her newly launched blog!
Easy and Delicious Walnut Recipes to Try
Now that you understand walnut nutrition and all of the wonderful benefits that eating walnuts can bring you, you probably want to know how you can integrate them into your diet! Here are some different ways that you can deliciously eat walnuts, whether it be for a meal, a snack, or even dessert:
Unfortunately, despite all of the benefits of walnut nutrition, there are still some precautions and warnings needed for those looking to add them into their diet. Things to keep in mind are:
- Nut Allergies
Walnuts are a type of tree nut, so those with tree nut allergies should avoid walnuts and its products.
- Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Walnuts consumed at normal levels are completely safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, but there may be some negative impacts if consumed at high quantities over longer periods of time (15). This should only really affect those eating extremely high quantities of walnuts, or who are using walnuts as a form of medicine.
- Bowel Movement
Before you start eating multiple servings of walnuts per day, you may want to ease into larger walnut consumption. If you begin to eat too many walnuts per day you may begin to suffer from diarrhea due to its high fiber content, high oil content, or general stomach sensitivity (3).
- Walnuts Cannot Make You Healthy By Themselves
Although walnut nutrition can bring many great health benefits, it is important that you still have an overall healthy lifestyle to reap the full benefits. Depending on walnuts alone could bring negative effects such as weight gain, as they are higher in calories and fats. Adding walnuts into an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle could lead to more health detriments than health benefits. It is important to live healthy while including walnuts and not try to eat walnuts to be healthy.
Fun Walnut Facts
Did you know?
– Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, going back thousands of years to Persia in 7000 B.C. (16) They were extremely popular and were traded through the Silk Road, creating walnut forests all throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. This is also why the word for walnuts across various languages are all similar to one another. Walnuts are one of the earliest global spreadings of culture, showing how food connects the world.
– Walnut shells and powder are common ingredients in natural soaps.
– The United States is currently the world’s largest exporter of walnuts with a 35.5% share of exports. Mexico and Chile rank second and third with a shares of 22.1% and 12.1% respectively. (17)
– Many herbalists and physicians during the Renaissance period believed that walnuts contained healing properties. They would use them to heal various ailments such as carbuncles, stomach pains, and even the plague. (18)
Now that we have cracked open walnut nutrition and its health benefits, hopefully, you are ready to start including them more often in your diet. Regardless of whether you eat them as a snack, as part of a meal, or as a part of your dessert, you now know that you are eating to help you become a healthier individual. Walnuts are now making a resurgence in the health and wellness community, and future studies are being done on even more health benefits that walnuts provide. Look forward to new walnut research in the future detailing even greater benefits!
If you found these facts on walnut nutrition helpful make sure to share them with a friend! Also, be sure to share any of your favorite walnut related recipes with us @cookandculture on Instagram!
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