Walnuts were called the nut of the gods in ancient times. And event today, walnuts are called the king of nuts because of their incredible health benefits. Great things do come in little packages, and walnuts prove this saying true.
Walnuts contain several nutrients that make it a super-food. Firstly, it contains omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are usually found in fish like salmon. This means that vegetarians and vegans cannot take advantage of their health benefits. Walnuts are thus an excellent purely vegetarian source of omega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts have protein content that can rival meat – another reason for vegetarians to cheer. Walnuts also contain unsaturated fatty acids which are the good fats that your body and organs need to function; they help to lower cholesterol too. In addition, walnuts contain vitamin E, fiber, l-arginine, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, zinc, calcium, selenium, and the highest level of antioxidants of all nuts.
Like all nuts, walnuts are very high in calories – about 27 to 30 calories per walnut depending on its size. It may not seem like much for one, but when was the last time you had just one walnut or one almond or one pistachio? If you start gobbling down walnuts in an attempt to gain their health benefits, you will add inches – and not vertically. You do not need to eat many walnuts to get their health benefits. The thing about walnuts – as with all superfoods – is that they are so potent in nutrition that even just a small quantity will give you all the health benefits that you seek. Research suggests that eating just 7 walnuts a day is enough to get all the health benefits that walnuts have to offer. Any more than that on a daily basis and you will have to hit the gym to get rid of the pounds you are sure to pile on. 7 walnuts would come to between 189 and 210 calories – just enough to serve as a healthy snack between meals, or the perfect way to kickstart your metabolism in the morning.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
The health benefits of walnuts are amazing! They protect you inside-out, from head to toe. They take care of your brain, heart, blood and bones. And all wrapped up in a tasty tiny package. You really could not ask for more when you are looking for health benefits in your food. Let’s take a look at some of the unbelievable ways in which walnuts can make you a healthier, happier person.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Walnuts have long been known to be heart-healthy nuts. Research and studies in the last decade have proven that the health benefits of walnuts for the heart ar innumerable and more effective than any other food on its own. This is because of the abundance of omega 3 fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants in walnuts.
The omega 3 fatty acids in walnuts provide more health benefits than its other nutritional content. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to be very effective at preventing blood clots, which is what causes the majority of heart attacks. Combined with dietary fibers, omega 3 fatty acids also lower the level of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol – a risk factor for heart disease and almost as bad as blood clots when it comes to causing cardiovascular disease. Arrhythmia or erratic heart beats can be corrected with an intake of omega 3 fatty acids. Even the Food and Drug Administration or the FDA has declared that walnuts are a heart-healthy food and should be included in a balanced diet to keep cardiovascular disease at bay.
Strengthens the Arteries
One of the health benefits of walnuts that can prevent heart problems and high blood pressure is this wonder nut’s ability to keep the lining of the arteries healthy.
Data collected from over 80,000 people and studied over two decades has shown that walnuts can help to prevent gallstones. So if you are at risk of developing gallstones or just do not want to take the chance that you will get them, then eat a handful of walnuts a day.
Protects your Bones
It is a known fact that bones get weaker with age. The bone mineral density decreases dramatically and can get bad enough to cause osteoporosis. The rich nutrition in walnuts can help to keep your bones strong to a ripe old age. Those who eat walnuts have harder bones since walnuts have a protective effect against the natural age-related mineral depletion and deterioration of your bones.
Ever noticed how walnuts look like little brains? Maybe it’s nature’s way of telling us that it’s good for the brain. Well, we got the message. Research has shown that the omega 3 fatty acids in walnuts help to maintain the structural fat that makes up 60% of the brain. This structural fat is crucial to the proper functioning of the brain. The only other foods apart from walnuts that contain the right kind of omega 3 fatty acids to maintain the structural fat are fish and flaxseed. Now the brain is the central processing unit of your body. So keeping it in prime condition will contribute to better memory and cognitive functioning. It will also help to reduce the probability of depression and behavioral problems. In fact, it is recommended that children who have learning disorders or suffer from attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) be given walnuts to improve the functioning of their brains.
There have been thousands of studies done on omega 3 fatty acids and the problems that occur when a deficiency of this vital nutrient exists. They all say the same thing – omega 3 fatty acids are vital to overall health, not just for the brain, and a deficiency will cause problems. You may not be able to eat fish everyday because it is too expensive or perhaps you are a vegetarian. But walnuts are cheap, easy to incorporate into your diet, and bursting with nutrients that are great for you. So bite into this crunchy nut instead of popping a vitamin pill.
Good for Diabetics
Walnuts are especially beneficial for people with type II diabetes. It does not prevent the diabetes itself or even help with insulin production in any way. However, diabetics are at an increased risk for heart disease. And since walnuts are wonderful at preventing heart disease, they should definitely be included in a diabetic diet.
No, walnuts will not make that much of a difference if you suffer from chronic constipation. But walnuts do indeed help with cases of mild constipation. Since walnuts have high levels of dietary fibers, munching on a few can have laxative-like effects.
Fights Certain Cancers
Walnuts are very rich in antioxidants, and several different kinds of antioxidants. There is an antioxidant compound known as ellagic acid which is thought to be useful in fighting cancer. It also helps to boost the immune system so it can help cancer patients recover from chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Helps With Insomnia
We all have trouble falling asleep at some point. Studies have shown that eating a handful of walnuts before bed is more effective at preventing insomnia than the traditional glass of warm milk. Here’s why.
Our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin which is responsible for several functions. But we will only talk about one of them in relation to insomnia. Melatonin is what signals the brain that enough work has been done and that the body is tired and needs to sleep. The body usually releases melatonin around the same time that you sleep every night. But as we age, the melatonin levels produced by the body decreases. This is why so many senior citizens have trouble sleeping and often sleep for only four to five hours a night. Now walnuts are a natural and bountiful source of melatonin. So take a handful before bed and you’ll be nodding off before you know it.
Will Help to Keep The Weight Off
Everyone knows that walnuts, like all other nuts, are very high in calories. Since people are afraid of gaining weight, they tend to avoid consuming nuts like walnuts altogether. But research has uncovered that eating nuts on a regular basis will actually aid your weight loss efforts, and once you lose the weight walnuts will prevent it from coming back. Most people who lose significant amounts of weight will put it back on within five years. Only a very small percentage manage to keep it off since they choose to maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than go back to unhealthy eating habits. Studies show that those who eat nuts like walnuts at least twice a week are 31% less likely to regain their weight than those who rarely or never eat walnuts. So do not let worries of weight gain stop you from gaining the health benefits of walnuts.
Additional Health Benefits of Walnuts
All the above health benefits of walnuts have been researched to some extent and are established facts now. But there are several other claims about the health benefits of walnuts that are still under scrutiny by the scientific community. These health benefits of walnuts may not have full scientific backing, but the word of thousands of folks who reported these health benefits of walnuts has to count for something. There’s no smoke without fire, right? If you are skeptical, you can always test the following health benefits of walnuts and find out for yourself whether they are true or not.
- Walnuts are thought to be very good for the liver. So those who have liver damage or liver problems should include walnuts in their diet to help their livers heal.
- If you are trying to build muscle, walnuts should be a part of your diet to help you reach your fitness goals.
- Many people have stated that eating walnuts boosted their metabolism. This not only promotes better digestion but may also help you to lose weight if you are following a diet and exercise routine. Considering that walnuts help with constipation, this claim is not that hard to believe.
- Walnuts have anti-inflammatory properties that may help in the treatment of certain health conditions like arthritis, eczema, asthma and sinus problems.
- Preliminary research suggests that walnuts may help reduce or even prevent high blood pressure. Walnuts help to improve blood circulation in the body. We have also seen that it strengthens the walls of the arteries, plus it prevents plaque buildup. All these factors mean a significant reduction in the risk factors of high blood pressure.
How to Get Walnut Health Benefits
Here are some simple ways in which you can incorporate walnuts into your diet so that you can gain the health benefits of this super-nutritious nut.
- Nothing like eating plain walnuts with no fancy preparation. This is undoubtedly the easiest and best way to get the health benefits of walnuts.
- Crush walnuts into smaller pieces and sprinkle over your breakfast cereal.
- Use chopped walnuts in salads to provide some crunchy texture and to add healthy fat content to your meal.
- Walnut oil may be used for cooking. The drawbacks are that there is no fiber in walnut oil, plus it is very high in fat. Be careful that you do not burn or overheat walnut oil as it tends to get rather bitter. If this is how you plan on getting the health benefits of walnuts, try walnut oil on your salads.
- Eat walnuts with some yogurt for a healthy snack.
- The worst way to eat walnuts or indeed any nuts is in chocolate, other sweet desserts, and in salt. This is because the presence of the other unhealthy ingredients significantly lowers the health benefits of walnuts. You may as well not bother with eating walnuts at all if you plan to eat them in this manner.
Since many people are allergic to nuts, you should get tested for an allergy to walnuts before you start incorporating them into your diet.