10 Proven Benefits of Walnuts
Walnut kernel is a nut packed with valuable nutrients and phytochemicals which exhibit several health benefits. Walnuts benefits include proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols which make them very valuable for human nutrition.
Apart from the nutritive value of walnuts, they have several therapeutic properties too.
Health benefits of walnuts:
1. Walnuts are a good source of protein and other nutrients
Walnuts contain about 13 to 18 % of protein. For a vegan or vegetarian, they are a good source of protein. Walnuts contain about 60 % fat and are energy-dense.
Walnuts are also rich sources of calcium, about 98 mg per 100 grams. Walnuts benefits also include micronutrients such as potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, folate and dietary fiber.
Walnuts also contain essential omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid.
2. Antioxidant-rich walnuts
Antioxidants are molecules that help us to keep free radicals in control and protect us by fighting against free radical activity that can lead to several medical concerns.
Walnuts are a good source of vitamin E which is a potent antioxidant. Walnuts also contain phytosterols such as polyphenols and phytomelatonin which have antioxidant properties.
3. Walnut benefits include alpha-linolenic acid
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid obtained from plant sources and must be provided through the diet. Walnuts are a rich source of ALA and contribute towards good heart health.
8-14 % of the total fat content is ALA in walnuts.
4. Walnuts are heart-healthy nuts
Walnuts are rich sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fatty acid. The bioavailability of ALA is high and almost 100 % is absorbed from the diet. The ALA content of walnuts is considerable, 8-14 % of the total fat content is ALA.
ALA exhibits several heart-healthy benefits. It has a positive effect on the blood lipid profile and also helps reduce inflammation.
According to a review of work done on walnuts, it was shown that the two major risk factors of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), low-density lipoproteins and blood pressure were reduced with the intake of walnuts.
Walnuts can be included in a heart-healthy diet and hence reap walnut benefits
5. Walnuts help in weight loss
Apart from being packed with nutrients walnut benefits also include reducing weight and weight management.
A study incorporating 30 grams of walnuts per day for three months resulted in weight loss and also brought about positive changes in food choices among the subjects.
It was observed in another study that including walnuts in the daily diet of healthy elders resulted in no adverse effects on body weight or body composition.
Though energy-dense, walnuts in moderation can help in weight management.
6. Walnuts and hypertension
Among the other major walnut benefits, curing Hypertension is prominent. Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. By incorporating walnuts in the diet blood pressure lowering property of walnuts can be utilized safely. There is scientific evidence which supports this recommendation.
A review of work done on walnuts benefits on health has shown that one of the two major risk factors of CVDs blood pressure was reduced because of the intake of walnuts.
7. Walnuts provide phytomelatonin
Walnuts are considered to be one of the best food sources of phytomelatonin, a bioavailable melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anticancer activities, and exhibits neuroprotection. It is also known for its sleep-regulatory role.
8. Walnuts help prevent neurodegenerative diseases
Because of our lifestyle, there is increased oxidative stress and inflammation which lead to the progression of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. The primary prevention strategy should be adopting healthy dietary habits.
The diet should include foods that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.
Walnuts are rich sources of phytochemicals such as polyphenols and also contain omega 3 fatty acids. Walnut benefits reduce oxidant and inflammatory load on brain cells.
An animal study concluded that a diet having walnuts, by reducing oxidative, may help to decrease the risk or delay the onset and advancement of Alzheimer’s disease.
Walnuts are good for our brain cells.
9. Anticarcinogenic effect of walnuts
A review of the literature available concluded that adding walnuts to a healthy diet could provide benefits against cancer and the mechanisms responsible for this action are several.
Not only multiple mechanisms, but multiple components add to walnut benefits and contribute towards the anti-carcinogenic properties of walnuts.
Consuming substantial amounts of nuts, including walnuts appears to have a protective effect against development of breast cancer.
10. Walnuts are diabetic friendly
A study concluded that frequent intake of walnuts was associated with a lower risk of incidence of type 2 diabetes in women. The association continued after the adjustment for other lifestyle factors.
Diabetic people are also at a higher risk of getting CVDs and walnuts may cut down risk factors of CVDs.
When incorporated in the diet, walnuts not only provide us with several valuable nutrients but as a bonus contributes towards our health too! Take a fistful of walnuts a day as part of a balanced diet and reap the walnut benefits.