Walnuts have been known to mankind for a long time. Walnuts are edible seeds belonging to the tree nut family. 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 amounts of nutrients such as proteins, EFAs (essential fatty acids), carbohydrates, vitamins, and essential minerals.
Walnuts have always been considered as ‘Brain Food’, perhaps because 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 intelligence, leading to the belief that they actually increase one’s intellect. While this is not exactly true, recent scientific studies have proven that the consumption of walnuts does help in promoting brain function. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which increase the activity of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids coupled with iodine and selenium add to ensuring optimum functioning of the brain.
Along with their delicious taste, walnuts have antioxidants and proteins that help in imparting a multitude of health benefits. They are also a delicious supplement and therefore can be easily included in anyone’s diet. Walnuts are also considered as ‘Power food’, since they are believed to improve body stamina.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
There 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 favouring a healthy lipid supply. Consumption of walnuts lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases level of good cholesterol (HDL). Daily consumption of 25 grams of walnuts would provide 90% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of EFAs, which in turn lowers the risk of high blood pressure and 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. They, along with EFAs, provide minerals to the body. Minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium are also provided by walnuts. These minerals help contribute to metabolic 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, since they contain a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, as per research conducted by Gillen et al. (2005) at the University of Wollongong, Australia. In an article titled “The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk”, by Lovejoy (2005) it is mentioned that 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 of controlling the growth of cancer cells in the body. The phenolic compounds and antioxidants found in them recorded a control on human cancer cells, according to the research conducted by Carvalho et al. (2010) from the University of Portugal.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The polyphenolic compounds and phytochemical substances found in walnuts reduce the effects of inflammation in the body. This finding was a result of an experiment conducted in the Mediterranean area by Papoutsi et al. (2008).
Vitamins: Rich in gamma-tocopherol, walnuts are also a good source of vitamin E, which is a strong lipid soluble antioxidant. The vitamin E present in them helps in maintaining and protecting the skin from free radicals 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.
Induces Sleep: Walnuts contain a compound called melatonin, responsible for conveying messages regarding the cycle of light and dark to the body. Since melatonin is already synthesised by the body, consumption of walnuts increases the blood levels of melatonin, thereby inducing sleep. Eat some walnuts soaked in water before sleeping or eat a salad or any other dish using walnuts as toppings. Melatonin, a hormone that helps induce and regulate sleep, is available in walnuts in a bio-available form. Thus, walnuts help make for a perfect dinner that leads you to a great, restful sleep.
Weight Management: The amount of fat, calories, and carbohydrate content found in walnuts is about 18 grams, 190 cal, and 4 grams, respectively per 1 ounce. Therefore, it is believed that walnut consumption may result in weight gain. However, research conducted by Sabaté et al. (2005) at the Loma Linda University, California, USA have shown that walnut consumption of about 35 grams per day did not result in any significant weight gain among tested individuals over a period of 1 year.
Improved Reproductive Health in Men: One of the lesser-known benefits of walnuts is their impact on male fertility. Among men who consume a Western-style diet, adding 75 grams (a bit over one-half cup) of walnuts daily significantly improved sperm quality, including vitality, motility, and morphology.12
Brain Health: Walnuts contain a number of neuroprotective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. Research shows walnut consumption may support brain health, including increasing inferential reasoning in young adults.13
One study also found that consuming high-antioxidant foods like walnuts "can decrease the enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress that occurs in aging," "increase health span," and also "enhance cognitive and motor function in aging."
Can Keep Dementia at Bay: Eating walnuts everyday can help ward off dementia, say scientists. In a study, a team from the New York State Institute found that mice deprived of walnuts suffered a dramatic loss in learning, memory and physical and emotional control. According to the results, vitamin E and flavanoids in walnuts helped destroy harmful free radical chemicals that cause dementia.
Gallstone Disease: According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, frequent nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cholecystectomy - an operation to remove the gallbladder. In over a million people documented over 20 years, women who consumed more than 5 ounces of nuts a week had a significantly lower risk of cholecystectomy than women who ate less than 1 ounce of nuts each week.
Mood Booster: A scientific study indicates that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids (provided by walnuts) cause hyperactivity, irritability, and tantrums. Supplementing a child’s diet with walnuts compensates the deficit in EFAs 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 flavour that helps bring aroma and flavour to the food. This flavour gives a pleasant taste, but only when the walnut oil is used in moderation. It is used as a carrier/base oil in various therapies like aromatherapy, massage therapy, and aromatherapy, as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. Walnut oils are terrific as dressings on chicken, turkey, salads, pasta, fish and steaks. The uses of walnut oils in dessert recipes help bring a nutty flavor to the dish. A 35 gram serving of walnut oil provides the same nutritional benefits as 50 grams of walnuts. They also provide significant levels of Vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-3.
Stress Reliever: If daily stress is taking a toll on your health, it’s time to eat walnuts, as they help fight stress, according to a study. The researchers found that including walnuts and walnut oil in the diet lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory. Walnuts are a rich source of fibre, antioxidants, and unsaturated fatty acids, particularly alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. These are the nutrients that give walnuts its stress fighting properties.
Makes Your Skin Glow: Walnuts are rich in B-vitamins and antioxidants that prevents your skin from free radical damage and prevents wrinkles and signs of ageing. So if you want glowing skin long into your middle-age, eat walnuts.
Great for Pregnant Women: Mothers-to-be who eat a diet rich in fatty acids such as those found in walnuts can reduce the baby’s chances of developing food allergies, researchers say. The research found that if a mother’s diet contains a certain group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), the baby’s gut develops differently. The PUFAs are thought to improve how gut immune cells respond to bacteria and foreign substances, making the baby less likely to suffer from allergies.
How Can You Add Walnuts Into Your Healthy Diet?
Walnuts can be integrated into your diet to gain from all the associated health benefits. A few ways to add walnuts to your meal are as follows:
Add shredded walnuts to chicken and fish right before cooking them.
Ground some walnuts and use the powder on sandwiches, salads, or any other dish.
Add chopped/shredded walnuts to desserts to add a nutty flavour to it.
Add chopped/shredded walnuts to yogurt and berries to make a healthy dessert.
To roast walnuts, use a 70-75°c oven for 15-20 minutes.
Oftentimes, the simplest foods are best for your health, and this is certainly the case for nuts, in which Mother Nature has crafted a nearly perfect package of protein, healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols, antioxidants, and many vitamins and minerals.
Among nuts, the case may be made that walnuts are king, as research shows they may boost your health in a number of ways at very easy-to-achieve "doses."
Eating just one ounce of walnuts a day (that's about seven shelled walnuts) may be all it takes to take advantage of their beneficial properties.
How to Select and Store Walnuts
Walnuts can be available year round in the markets. In the stores, you may get to see different forms of kernels put for sale; unshelled, shelled (without the shell), salted, sweetened, or ground, etc. Buy whole, “unshelled” nuts instead of processed ones.
When purchasing whole walnuts that have not been shelled choose those that feel heavy for their size. Their shells should not be cracked, pierced or stained, as this is oftentimes a sign of mould development on the nutmeat, which renders it unsafe for consumption.
Shelled walnuts are generally available in pre-packaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the walnuts are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing walnuts in bulk or in a packaged container avoid those that look rubbery or shrivelled. If it is possible to smell the walnuts, do so in order to ensure that they are not rancid.
Due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, walnuts are extremely perishable and care should be taken in their storage. Shelled walnuts should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator, where they will last for six months, or the freezer, where they will last for one year. Unshelled walnuts should preferably be stored in the refrigerator, although as long as you keep them in a cool, dry, dark place they will stay fresh for up to six months.
Risks for Eating Walnuts
Walnuts are dense in calories and should be consumed in moderation. A 1 ounce serving of walnuts contains about 14 half-walnut pieces.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.
In general, walnuts are very healthy. However, some people may be allergic to them.
Walnuts can also reduce mineral absorption in certain individuals.
Walnuts are among the eight most allergenic foods.
Additionally, the symptoms of a walnut allergy are typically severe. Walnuts sometimes cause an allergic shock (anaphylaxis), which can be fatal without treatment.
Individuals with a walnut allergy need to avoid these nuts completely.
Reduced mineral absorption
Like all seeds, walnuts are high in phytic acid.
Phytic acid, or phytate, is a plant substance that impairs the absorption of minerals, such as iron and zinc, from the digestive tract. This only applies to meals that contain high-phytate foods.
Individuals that follow diets rich in phytic acid but low in iron and zinc may be at a higher risk of developing mineral deficiencies.
Bottom Line: Walnuts are exceptionally healthy. However, some people may be very allergic to them. Walnuts may also reduce mineral absorption in some individuals.
....making effort to "STAYWELL"