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Is Walnut: A Worthy Addition To One’s Diet?

by Outlook Health
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Walnut is one of the members of the family of nuts, a tree nut containing a chock full of nutrients with a wide range of benefits. The edible one originated in Persia, hence it is referred to as Persian nuts. People also used to regard it as ‘the royal nut’ back in 700 BC as it was only consumed by the royals.

Walnut is a single-seeded fruit that is rich in vitamins, and minerals like iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium; little sodium, fibers, proteins, and healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids, and no cholesterol. It can be eaten raw or roasted. It is often approved by people as a ‘brain food’ and is easy to be added to one’s diet. Many research studies have even proved that regular consumption of walnuts can improve brain function. Other than this, walnut is known to boost cardiovascular health protect one from various cognitive diseases, and even keep cancer at bay.[1, 2, 3]

Nutritional Facts About Walnuts

Walnut comprises 15% protein, 65% fat content, and negligible carbohydrate content which is primarily because of fiber content. It contains fats including monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats (especially linoleic acid- an omega-6 fatty acid) and even omega-3 fatty acids (commonly alpha-linolenic acid) which are healthy for the heart. These aid in reducing bad cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. As it is high in calories, it gives one’s body energy, and adding to the diet may not lead to obesity.

Walnut also contains a lot of minerals and vitamins including Vitamin B6 which helps strengthen one’s immune system, Vitamin E, copper, and folic acid which is a necessity for pregnant women to avoid congenital defects because of their essential biological functions.

A 30g of walnut has nutritional value as follows-

• Water- 4%
• Fiber- 1.9 grams
• Carbohydrates- 3.9 grams
• Sugar- 0.7 grams
• Fat- 18.5 grams
• Protein- 4.3 grams
• Calories- 185. [2, 3]

Proven Health Benefits of adding Walnuts to One’s Daily Diet

A diet containing a handful of an ounce of walnuts or one-quarter cup can be very beneficial for overall well-being. Anyone can add walnuts to their daily diet by sprinkling them onto oatmeal or any other cold or hot cereals; stirring them into muffins, pancakes, or other quick bread; tossing them into salads or with vegetables. For getting skin and hair benefits, walnut oils and scrubs are also available. [1]

Thus, adding walnuts to one’s diet will afford him/her with following health benefits:

  • Improved Bone Health- Walnuts are rich in minerals like copper which help in maintaining appropriate bone density. So, those who consume walnuts are no longer prone to osteoporosis where bones easily get fractured. Furthermore, copper also ensures that the body has ample amounts of elastin and collagen as these help in the body structure. [2]
  • Improved Metabolism- The essential fatty acids present in walnuts can help with various metabolic processes including digestion, growth, and development. As per one study, it has been found that intake of 45g of walnuts for 16 weeks may improve the status of Metabolic Syndrome by decreasing the levels of fasting glucose and increasing the concentration of HDL-C. [3]
  • Boost in Body Energy- Studies have found that walnuts contain the B group of Vitamins which aids in increasing one’s energy levels. To achieve this, one can eat a handful of walnuts as a morning snack, add it to the smoothie, or sprinkle some of it in a cup of yogurt. [3]
  • Good for Brain Health- Walnuts possess alpha-linolenic acid- a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid and more polyphenols than any other nut, which is why they are essential for the brain. Walnuts can help with mood stability and eliminate depression or anxiety. Some researchers suggest that long-term and early intervention with walnuts in one’s diet can help protect against age-related cognitive decline and maintain cognitive function. It also helps in delaying the onset, reducing the risk, or slowing the progression of dementia and cognitive impairment. [3]
  • Aid in Weight Loss- Walnuts are rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3 and omega-6 contents. All of these nutrients suppress one’s appetite. Moreover, walnuts stimulate the brain to boost the quantity of a peptide hormone that provides satiety and a feeling of stomach fullness for long periods.[3]
  • Improves Fertility- Scientific evidence proves that daily addition of walnuts into the diet may help improve sperm quality and mobility, increase sperm count, prevent unusual sperm growth or prevent sperm morphology. [3]
  • Promotes Heart Health- Studies suggest that a daily serving of walnuts can help lower bad cholesterol and even hypertension, promote a healthy lipid supply because of the abundance of omega-3 fats, and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. [3]
  • Helps Prevent Cancer- As per researchers, there are tocopherols, omega-3 fatty acids, etc. present in walnuts that possess anti-cancer properties. Thus, walnuts consumption can reduce the risk of developing pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancer. [3]
  • Suppress Inflammation- Walnuts are anti-inflammatory and their daily consumption can help in various diseases caused by inflammation. These include rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. [3]
  • Encourages Healthy Skin- Walnut contains Vitamin E and potent antioxidants that prevent free radical damage and oxidative stress, thereby making the skin supple and healthy. Walnut oil well nourishes the skin, keeps it moisturized, and is a great remedy for dull and dry skin. [3]
  • Helps in Providing Better Sleep- Walnuts contain a tryptophan-an amino acid which is a building block of protein helping in regulating the body’s clock. The body makes use of tryptophan to produce melatonin and serotonin, both of which are involved in helping us get better sleep. So, walnuts can be a part of dinner or bedtime snacks to help improve our sleep quality. [3]
  • Strengthens Nails and Hair- The fatty acids found in the walnuts can help nourish the hair and nails, thereby preventing any nail issues and hair loss. If walnut oil is massaged on the scalp along with the intake of raw walnuts, the dormant hair follicles can get active and new hair could grow with improved luster. It can help reduce dandruff and soothe or relax an inflamed scalp. Nail health gets improved due to the presence of high amounts of Vitamin E, Vitamin B, and Biotin. [3]

References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/walnuts-a-worthy-addition-to-your-daily-diet-202111172640#:~:text=Although%20all%20nuts%20are%20good,for%20their%20heart%2Dprotecting%20powers.
  2. https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/magazines/healthy-living/walnuts-a-worthy-addition-to-your-diet-3839734
  3. https://www.healthifyme.com/blog/walnuts/

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