The health benefits of walnuts

February 27, 2018

Have you ever heard about the "Juglans regia" ? This is a tree nut belonging to the walnut family.

 

Photo by Michael Flippo

 

 

Walnuts are sometimes referred to as English or Persian walnuts (or just regular nuts).

 

Originated in the Mediterranean region and Central Asia, they have been part of our diet for centuries.

They are rich in omega-3 fats and higher amounts of antioxidants. The simple habit of eating walnuts may improve brain health and helping to prevent cancer and heart disease as well. NCBI1

 

You may eat it as a snack or by adding it to breakfast cereals, salads, soups and baked goods such as breads or tarts. Interestingly, you may also find the English walnuts as a culinary oil!

 

Nutrition Facts

The walnuts often are composed of roughly 65% fat with a protein content of about 15%.

Below are the nutrition facts for a portion of 100 grams as per the USDA :

  • Calories : 654

  • Water: 4 %

  • Protein: 15.2 g

  • Carbs: 13.7 g

  • Sugar: 2.6 g

  • Fiber: 6.7 g

  • Fat: 65.2 g

  • Saturated: 6.13 g

  • Monounsaturated: 8.93 g

  • Polyunsaturated: 47.17 g

  • Omega-3: 9.08 g

  • Omega-6: 38.09 g

  • Trans fat: ~

 

Most of the calories (energy source) in walnuts come from fat, which makes them a high-calorie food.

Even though walnuts are rich in fat and calories, studies indicate that they do not increase the risk of obesity when replacing other foods in the diet, so long as it is done in the correct proportions.

NCBI-2NCBI-3

 

In addition, walnuts are an expressive source of vitamins and minerals, including:

 

Health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, possible cancer prevention and improved brain function are also linked to eating walnuts:

 

Heart Health

Many studies have shown that eating walnuts may combat risk factors for heart disease by: 

These effects are likely caused by the beneficial fat composition of walnuts as well as their rich antioxidant content.

 

 

Cancer Prevention

Walnuts contain components that may have anti-cancer properties, including: 

In addition, studies have associated a steady diet of eating of nuts with lowering the risk of colon and prostate cancer. NCBI27, NCBI28

 

 

Brain Health

Studies have shown that consumption of nuts may improve brain function and can help with depression and age-related decline in brain function. NCBI29NCBI30

 

These benefits are probably due to the high antioxidant content of walnuts. The omega-3 acids may also play a role in this function. NCBI31NCBI32

 

It is important to state that these studies were observational and therefore can't prove that walnuts were the cause of improvements in brain function. Stronger evidence is provided by studies that investigate the effect of eating walnuts directly.

 

 

Summary

Walnuts are a great addition to the average person's diet, as they contain numerous benefits to one's metabolism, being a great source or energy and antioxidants for the body.

 

They can be eaten on their own or added to many different foods we prepare on a daily basis.

 

In short, walnuts may just be one of the easiest things that can be done to improve one's overall health. But as always, be aware of potential allergies and always check with your doctor or nutritionist before making substantial changes to your diet.

 

 

Walnut Allergy Disclaimer

Walnuts are among the eight most allergenic foods. NCBI33

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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