The health benefits of walnuts include reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body, improvement in metabolism, weight management, and control of diabetes. Other important health benefits of walnuts stem from the fact that these nuts possess anti-inflammatory properties, improve brain health, and help as a mood booster. They are also believed to slow down the spread of cancer.
What are Walnuts?
Walnuts are edible seeds from the trees of Juglans genus. They are round, single-seeded fruits of the walnut tree. The fruit and seed of walnut are enclosed in a thick, inedible husk. The shell of the fruit that encloses the kernel is hard and two-halved.
Walnuts have a delicious taste and crunchy texture, which is why they are used in cookies, cakes, granola, cereals, energy bars, and the ever-popular banana walnut bread. The nut meal and flour are also used for baking. The anti-oxidant rich nuts are also used in herbal skin and hair products including soaps, shampoos, face exfoliators, scrubs, and body oils. Walnut oil is a rich emollient and is known for its anti-aging properties.
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 studies have proven that the consumption of these seeds does help in promoting brain function. There are two types of walnuts; black walnut and the brown variety. We shall be talking about the brown walnut in detail.
Nutritional Value of Walnuts
Walnuts are 65% fat by weight and 15% protein. They are richer than most nuts in polyunsaturated fats and particularly rich in an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. Walnuts also have a relatively high amount of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). They are a rich source of vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
Walnuts also contain other essential minerals such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, as well as phytosterols. They are a good source of dietary fiber. They are rich sources of antioxidants like ellagic acid, catechin, melatonin, and phytic acid. Walnuts are also considered as ‘power food’ since they are believed to improve body stamina.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
Let’s find out the major health benefits of walnuts.
Walnuts have the capability of controlling the growth of cancer cells in the body. The phenolic compounds, omega-3 fatty acids, gamma-tocopherol, and other antioxidants found in them recorded a control on human cancer cells, including breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
Improve Heart Function
Walnuts are rich in amino acid l-arginine, omega-3, and monounsaturated fatty acids (72%) like oleic acid. It also contains EFAs like linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and arachidonic acids. The inclusion of these nuts in any diet helps prevent coronary heart diseases by favoring a healthy lipid supply. Their consumption lowers the LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases the level of HDL (good) cholesterol. Consuming walnuts daily also helps lower the risk of high blood pressure.
Walnuts rank second in the list of ‘antioxidant-rich’ foods, after blackberries. The rare powerful antioxidants such as quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin present in walnuts have remarkable free-radical scavenging power. These antioxidants also help prevent liver damage due to chemicals.
Walnuts are one of those nuts that helps you feel full, which means that it increases satiety. The rich source of protein and fiber makes it a healthy snacking option, especially for vegetarians.
Improve Male Fertility
Walnut has a positive impact on male fertility by improving sperm quality, quantity, vitality, and motility.
Walnuts 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. It also treats cognitive disorders like dementia and epilepsy.
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. Researchers say that the intake of nuts is inversely proportional to the risk of developing type-II diabetes.
Boost Bone Health
Essential fatty acids, in walnuts, secure the bone health of the body. They increase calcium absorption and deposition while reducing urinary calcium excretion.
Walnut, along with EFAs, provide minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium to the body. These minerals help contribute to metabolic activities like growth and development, sperm generation, digestion, and nucleic acid synthesis.
The polyphenolic compounds and phytochemical substances found in walnuts reduce the effects of inflammation in the body.
Cleanse Digestive System
This superfood helps to clean the internal digestive tract, aiding in detoxification by removal of toxins and waste. It also cures constipation.
The rich source of vitamin B-complex present in walnuts is essential for fetal growth. Pregnant mommies are you’ll listening!
This nut makes melatonin, a hormone that helps induce and regulate sleep, and is present in the bio-available form in them. Thus, they help make a perfect addition to your dinner dishes that leads you to a great, restful sleep.
Lack of omega-3 fatty acids (provided by walnuts) causes hyperactivity, irritability, and tantrums. Supplementing a child’s diet with these nuts compensates the deficit in EFAs and alleviates their mood. This is even applicable to people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), who are battling depression and stress after a trauma.
The vitamin E present in walnut helps in maintaining and protecting the skin from free radicals that are harmful in nature. It also helps in preventing wrinkles and dry skin. Regular use of walnuts also lightens the dark circles.
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, but only when it is used in moderation. It is used as a carrier/base oil in various therapies like aromatherapy, and massage therapy, as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.
Regular consumption of walnuts helps in building strong immune system, which can prevent the onset of various diseases. The rich source of antioxidants is responsible for this benefit.
Walnuts are also responsible for healthy hair as they strengthen hair follicles and makes scalp dandruff free. It also provides thicker, longer and stronger hair. You could also use its husk as a natural highlighter.
Fungal infections on the skin or inside the body, black helps you get rid of it all.
On average, 7-9 walnuts are considered safe for consumption. However, if you eat the nuts in excess, there are some side effects, which are as follows:
- Allergy:Overconsumption may result in a range of allergic reactions from minor to lethal.
- Digestive issues:Too much consumption of walnut may lead to nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, and more.
- Weight gain:Although it is a source of good fats, taking too much of this nut can make your weight rise like nuts!
- Pregnancy and lactation:Expecting and nursing women are advised to consume this food in prescribed amounts only. If you desire to increase its dosage, do consult your doctor.
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