Walnuts – Benefits, Nutrition, Uses, and More

Walnuts – Benefits, Nutrition, Uses, and More

People often tout walnuts as the ‘brain food’ because they resemble one. Several studies prove that consuming walnuts regularly improves brain function. Walnuts are easy to add to the diet, and they are very rich in nutritional content. They are rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.

These tree nuts have little sodium, are cholesterol-free, and are loaded with good omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, people in the late 700 BC regarded walnuts as ‘the royal nut’. Back then, it was only for the royals. Since walnuts originated in Persia, it is known as Persian walnuts. 

Nutritional Facts of Walnuts

Walnuts contain 65% fat and 15% protein content. Being a tree nut, it has negligible carbohydrate content. The carbohydrate in walnuts is primarily due to their fibre content. 

The nutritional value of 30 grams of walnuts is as follows:-

  • Calories – 185
  • Water – 4%
  • Protein – 4.3 grams 
  • Carbohydrates – 3.9 grams 
  • Sugar – 0.7 grams 
  • Fibre – 1.9 grams 
  • Fat – 18.5 grams 

Proven Health Benefits of Walnuts

Aids in Weight loss

Walnuts have high fibre, protein, omega-3 and omega-6 content. These nutrients together act as appetite suppressants. Furthermore, walnuts stimulate the right insula of the brain which boosts the quantity of peptide YY (PYY), a hormone that increases satiety and makes the stomach feel full for a longer time.

A study suggests that a walnut-induced diet promotes better weight loss than other energy diets. Including walnuts in your diet on a daily basis not just aids weight loss but may also help in weight management.

Boosts Energy

As per studies, the vitamin B content in walnuts helps boost energy levels. You can add some walnuts to a cup of yoghurt and eat a handful as a mid-morning snack or add it to a smoothie for breakfast to boost energy levels. 

Good for Brain

Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Walnuts also possess more polyphenolic compounds than any other nut. Both omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols are essential foods for your brain. Studies link low levels of omega-3 to mood disorders and thus walnuts can help with mood stability and eliminate depression or anxiety.  

Reports suggest that early and long-term nutritional intervention with walnuts may have beneficial effects in maintaining cognitive function and protecting against age-related cognitive decline. It also reduces the risk, delays the onset, or slows the cognitive impairment and dementia progression.

Promotes Healthy Skin

Walnuts contain potent antioxidants and vitamin E, which can make your skin look healthy and supple. In addition, vitamin E helps fight free radical damage caused due to oxidative stress.

Free radicals damage your skin cells and lead to premature ageing and other skin issues. Thus, consuming walnuts may help improve your skin health. Walnut oil is a great remedy for dry and dull skin. It nourishes the skin from within and keeps it moisturised.

Boosts Metabolism

Research has shown that walnuts are full of essential fatty acids that can boost metabolism, and help with digestion, growth, development, and other metabolic processes.

A study suggests that a dietary supplement of 45 g of walnuts for 16 weeks may improve metabolic syndrome status (MetS) by increasing the concentration of HDL-C and decreasing fasting glucose levels.

Walnuts are Anti-inflammatory

Oxidative stress and inflammation are key reasons behind age-related conditions like dementia. Walnuts contain multiple components that have additive or synergistic effects in suppressing inflammation and oxidative damage

Inflammation also leads to many other diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and allergies. Consuming walnuts every day may help in combating these diseases better. 

Walnuts Promote Healthy Heart

Walnuts encourage a healthy lipid supply due to an abundance of omega-3 fats like alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid. Studies suggest that a serving of walnuts a day helps lower cholesterol and reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. They are also beneficial in lowering high blood pressure. 

Helps Prevent Cancer

Research says that biochemicals, including omega-3 fatty acids, tocopherols etc., present in walnuts have cancer-prevention properties. These components present in walnuts can contribute to suppressing the risk of developing prostate, breast, or pancreatic cancers. 

Improves Fertility

Research proves that the addition of walnuts to your daily diet may increase sperm count, quality and mobility. Walnuts may also help prevent sperm morphology or abnormal sperm growth. 

Strengthens Hair and Nails

The fatty acids present in walnuts prevent the loss of scalp hair and eyebrows. In addition, they help nourish and strengthen your hair to improve hair health. 

Massaging your scalp with walnut oil may help stimulate dormant hair follicles and thereby improve its luster. The light texture of the oil allows it to penetrate deep into the hair shaft, moisturise it and reduce dandruff. The anti-inflammatory properties of walnuts help soothe and relax an inflamed scalp. 

The high biotin, vitamin E and vitamin B in walnuts help strengthen your nails and improve nail health. 

Helps You Get a Better Sleep

Walnuts contain an amino acid named tryptophan which helps in regulating the body’s clock. Our body uses this amino acid to produce serotonin and melatonin, both involved in regulating sleep.

Thus, having walnuts before bedtime may help improve your sleep quality and support better health, both physical and mental. 

Potential Side Effects of Walnuts

Digestive Issues

The fibre content of walnuts may cause issues for your digestive system. While moderate amounts catalyse digestion, too many walnuts can lead to gastronomical issues like diarrhoea, bloating and stomach pain. 

Eating too many walnuts can also cause kidney stones because of their high oxalate content. 

Allergies

As in the case of most nuts, walnuts are notorious allergens. People susceptible to allergies or having any nut allergy should be careful when consuming walnuts.

Symptoms of a walnut allergy include nausea, shortness of breath, difficulty in swallowing, itching in the mouth, throat, or eyes, and nasal congestion. Some people can also get contact dermatitis, i.e. development of hives or rashes on the skin right after they come in contact with walnuts.

Weight Gain

Granted that walnuts suppress appetite and facilitate weight loss, their excessive consumption works in the opposite direction. These nuts are dense in calories which can contribute to fat accumulation leading to weight gain. 

Ways to Consume Walnuts

You can eat raw walnuts or can incorporate them into your diet in many ways: 

For health benefits:

  • You can sprinkle them on your fruit salad to make it more nutritious and delicious. 
  • You can blend it with a smoothie. 
  • Top it up on a leafy salad. 
  • Add it to burgers for a crunch.
  • Ground it with dips and sauces to make them healthy. 
  • Garnish it over multigrain bread and millet loaves. 
  • Use it as a crunchy coating for fish or chicken. 
  • You can add walnuts to a paste and add flavour to gravies. 
  • Serve it with oatmeal. 
  • Chop and use walnuts for pasta and vegetables
  • Chop and add them to wraps and pita sandwiches. 
  • Add it to your favourite stir fry recipe. 

For skin and hair benefits:

  • You can crush it and make a walnut scrub. It helps exfoliate your skin and scalp.
  • You can use walnut oil to nourish your hair. 

Walnuts are readily available, and you can add them to countless dishes.

Walnuts: Precautions

  • To benefit from walnuts, knowing the correct dosage is very important. The appropriate dose of walnuts is 4-6 pcs per day. 
  • Ideally, you should eat walnuts early in the morning on an empty stomach to get the best benefits for your body. 
  • The shelf life of walnuts is the maximum when it is inside their shell. Once you break the shell, the shelf life starts to decrease. 
  • Contrary to common belief, a roasted walnut is not healthy. After roasting, the fat in walnuts comes in contact with oxygen, and oxidation starts to occur. The shelf life of walnut also starts to decrease as soon as it gets roasted. 
  • Ideally, you should store walnuts in airtight containers without removing the shell. 
  • Walnuts contain phytate, which is an anti-nutrient. Phytate hinders the absorption of minerals in the body. Hence overconsumption of walnuts is not advised. Instead, you should consume walnuts in the appropriate dosage. 

Summary

Walnuts have a range of benefits, from improving heart health and brain health to good and improved hair, skin, and nails. It also reduces inflammation and helps you to fight various degenerative diseases. Consuming walnuts daily and in the correct proportion will result in a happy and healthy diet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How many walnuts should you eat in a day?

A. Consuming 4-5 walnuts can help you reap its benefits.

Q. What are the benefits of eating walnuts?

A. Adding walnuts to your diet may improve heart health, brain health, promote weight management and keep blood pressure in check. In addition, walnuts also help in improving skin and hair health. 

Q. What happens if you eat a lot of walnuts?

A. Walnuts are dense in calories, and you should consume them in moderation to reduce the risk of gaining weight. They may also lead to kidney stones because of the oxalate content present in them. High consumption of walnuts may cause diarrhoea, stomach pain or bloating due to their fibre-rich content. Walnuts can lead to high levels of phytate in the body, an anti-nutrient that hinders mineral absorption in the body. 

Q. When should I eat walnuts morning or night?

A. The best time to eat walnuts is in the morning. You can soak walnuts at night and consume them on an empty stomach. Alternatively, you may have them before bed at night. 

Q. What are the health benefits of walnuts?

A. Improved cognitive function, healthy heart, younger-looking skin, better metabolism, weight management, etc., are some of the benefits of walnut consumption. Eating walnuts can also have a positive effect on one’s fertility.  

Q. What are the disadvantages of walnuts?

A. Too many walnuts can lead to high levels of phytate in the body, an anti-nutrient. Phytate hinders mineral absorption in the body. Walnuts are dense in calories, and you should consume them in moderation to reduce the risk of gaining weight. They may also cause kidney stones because of the oxalate content present in them.

Q. What is the best time to eat walnuts?

A. Ideally, you should eat walnuts early in the morning on an empty stomach.  

Q. Who should avoid eating walnuts?

A. People who have nut allergies should avoid walnuts. 

Q. Can walnuts be eaten empty stomach?

A. Yes, it is best to consume walnuts on an empty stomach. 

Q. Do walnuts help you sleep?

A. Walnuts contain an amino acid named tryptophan which helps in regulating the body clock. This amino acid helps in regulating the sleep cycle.

Q.Should I soak walnuts before eating?

A. Yes, soaking walnuts in water reduces the phytic acid present in them which hinders mineral consumption by our bodies. Furthermore, soaked walnuts are softer, have a more buttery taste and are easily digested. Thus, it’s advisable to soak them overnight before consumption. 

Q.Do walnuts increase blood pressure?

A. No, they help in regulating blood pressure. Walnuts encourage a healthy lipid supply due to an abundance of omega-3 fats like alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid. One serving of walnuts a day helps lower cholesterol and reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. They are also beneficial in lowering high blood pressure. 

Q.Is Walnut good for cholesterol?

A. Yes, walnuts contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that not only reduce bad cholesterol but even boost good cholesterol production. 

Q. Are walnuts a blood thinner?

A. Yes! Walnuts help to reduce bad cholesterol while reducing plaque formation, facilitating blood flow.  Therefore, in the sense of the word, obstacles in the path of the blood  are reduced helping the blood flow better.

Q. Can walnuts lower blood sugar?

A. Yes, walnuts are low glycemic index foods with high fibre content.  They take longer to break down and digest, which ensures a slow release of sugar in the bloodstream. 

Q. Are walnuts better than almonds?

A. Both walnuts and almonds offer various health benefits and choosing one over the other may be subject to personal choice and motive. Almonds may be the option for weight loss while one may choose walnuts for better brain health. 

Q. Do walnuts increase brain power?

A. Yes. Walnuts increase brain power. Early and long-term nutritional intervention with walnuts may have beneficial effects in maintaining cognitive function and protecting against age-related cognitive decline. It also helps reduce the risk, delay the onset, or slow the cognitive impairment and dementia progression.

Q.How many calories are in one walnut?

A. Approximately, one walnut has 45 calories. 

Q. Is Walnut good for weight loss?

A. Yes, when consumed in moderation, it is suitable for weight loss.  Walnuts have high fibre, protein, omega-3 and omega-6 content which together act as appetite suppressants. The high fibre content gives satiety for extended periods. Hence, including walnuts in your diet helps in weight loss.

Q. What are the 5 benefits of eating walnuts?

A. Improved cognitive function, healthy heart, younger-looking skin, better metabolism, weight management,  etc., are some of the benefits of walnut consumption. 

Q. Is walnut good for hair?

A. Yes, The fatty acids present in walnuts prevent the loss of scalp hair and eyebrows. In addition, they help nourish and strengthen your hair to improve hair health. Massaging your scalp with walnut oil may help stimulate dormant hair follicles and thereby improve its luster. The light texture of the oil allows it to penetrate deep into the hair shaft, moisturise it and reduce dandruff. The anti-inflammatory properties of walnuts help soothe and relax an inflamed scalp. 

Q. Do walnuts cause hair loss?

A. No, walnuts prevent hair loss. The fatty acids present in walnuts nourish and strengthen hair health. 

Q. What nut is good for the brain?

A. Walnuts are the best nuts for the brain. Early and long-term nutritional intervention with walnuts may have beneficial effects in maintaining cognitive function and protecting against age-related cognitive decline. It also helps reduce the risk, delay the onset, or slow the cognitive impairment and dementia progression.

Q. Which are healthier walnuts or pecans?

A. Both these nuts have their own unique micronutrient profile with their own set of benefits. Nutritionally, they are equitable but have different strengths and one may choose one over the other depending on their health objective. 

Q. Which is better for the brain: almond or walnut?

A. Walnut is better than almond for brain health.

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