Walnuts are the edible seeds of the walnut tree. These walnut seeds are enclosed in a hard, thick, two-halved inedible shell. At one time, because the surface structure of the walnut “meat” has a wrinkled appearance like that of the brain, they were considered “brain food”, and it was thought that eating them would increase intelligence.
It's no myth however, that walnuts do indeed provide numerous health benefits due to their high nutrient content that includes a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals as well as being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
As a result, when walnuts are part of a diet, consumption leads to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, decreased blood pressure, improved vascular function, and decreased oxidative stress and inflammation. These changes are the basis for over a dozen different proven health benefits.
In fact, there is so much interest in this one nut that scientists and industry experts have gathered annually for the past 50 years at the University of California at Davis, for a walnut conference to discuss the latest walnut health research!
Here at Northwest Wild Foods, we are proud that our nutrient rich walnuts are grown organically on a small artisan family farm where they are harvested by hand. These walnuts are picked at peak ripeness, shelled and air dried for your convenience.
Eating our organically grown walnuts can be an exciting and delicious experience. They make an excellent addition to salads, casseroles, desserts, breakfast foods, and more, and are just as good eaten raw, roasted, or toasted.
Here are some of the reasons to get excited about including these nutritious nuts in your diet.
The Nutritional Benefits of Walnuts
Walnuts are made up of 65% fat and about 15% protein. They’re low in carbohydrates, most of which consist of fiber. Since most of the calories in walnuts come from fat, this makes them an energy-dense, high-calorie food; however, this combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber also helps to increase feelings of satisfaction and fullness. This makes walnuts more healthful as a snack.
According to the USDA Food Data Central, walnuts are a rich source of B vitamins (vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate), vitamin C, vitamin E, as well as minerals such as calcium, manganese, iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc.
In fact, a single one-ounce serving of walnuts (approximately ¼ cup) will provide you with 7% of your dietary fiber, 50% of your daily manganese requirements, 23% of your copper requirements, 11% of your magnesium requirements, 4% of iron, and 10% of vitamin B6 requirements.
Studies also show that walnuts are exceptionally rich in antioxidants. In fact, walnuts ranked second in a study investigating the antioxidant content of 1,113 foods commonly eaten in the United States. Antioxidants help prevent cell changes that can lead to the development of serious disease.
More specifically, walnuts contain a relatively high percentage of the healthy omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In fact, walnuts are the only nuts that contain significant amounts of ALA. This is considered especially beneficial for heart health. It also helps reduce inflammation.
The abundance of these nutrients, provided by these “brainy” nuts, are better for your health than you would even imagine.
The Health Benefits of Consuming Walnuts
Walnuts provide over a dozen systemic health benefits including enhanced heart, brain and gut health, cancer prevention, lowered cholesterol and hypertension levels, improved weight management, and improved male fertility. Walnuts contain nutrients that even improve skin care and hair growth.
Just eating seven walnuts a day is enough to get all of these potential health benefits. Walnuts are best consumed raw, as roasting them may affect some of the nutrients that are sensitive to heat.
Heart Health / Lower Cholesterol Levels
Walnuts are Heart-Check Certified by the American Heart Association, meaning they meet the organization's criteria for being a "heart-healthy food." This includes being low in sodium, saturated fat and trans fat and containing at least 10% of the Daily Value for vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein or dietary fiber.
Heart-healthy walnuts also help decrease "bad cholesterol", like LDL cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol levels can lead to atherosclerosis, which is plaque buildup in blood vessels that can increase the risk for stroke or heart attack over time.
Healthy Brain Function / Mental Health
Studies show that regularly including walnuts in your diet can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may improve cognition, reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment, and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s by reducing oxidative damage and neuroinflammation.
The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts can also have a positive effect on memory.
Walnuts are also rich in neuro-supportive compounds including melatonin, folate, vitamin E and polyphenols, all of which can be beneficial for mental health. A 2022 study published in Nutrients revealed that eating about two servings of walnuts a day for 16 weeks improved self-reported levels of stress and depression, aided in a longer period of sleep, and improved overall mental health.
Walnuts are also rich in ellagitannins. Certain gut microbes can convert these to urolithins. These compounds have hormone-like properties that enable them to block hormone receptors in your body. This may also help reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers, especially breast and prostate cancers.
The Journal Diabetes / Metabolism Research and Reviews reported that walnuts help to lower blood glucose levels, thereby reducing a person’s risk of developing diabetes. It is the filling combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats in walnuts that helps to stabilize blood sugar levels by controlling appetite. Excess weight increases the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes.
In addition, other studies found that adults who were overweight and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes saw a drop in their fasting insulin levels after eating just a quarter of a cup of walnuts each day for several months. This shows that the body was using insulin as a way to control glucose levels more efficiently than it was before. Since diabetes and insulin resistance are both caused by inflammation, the protection against these health issues is thought to come from the anti-inflammatory agents that walnuts contain.
Another reason why walnuts are good for you is that they improve your gastrointestinal health. The Journal of Nutrition in 2018 published results of a randomized controlled trial on the benefits of walnuts for your gut health. Participants consumed 1.5 oz. of walnuts for a 2-week period. Tests revealed that walnuts helped to increase good gut bacteria.
Adding more walnuts to your diet can help you reap these benefits for your digestive health.
Walnuts are beneficial for bone health due to their copper, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus content; all essential for maintaining strong bones. They also have essential fatty acids that may enhance calcium absorption and reduce its excretion.
Walnuts are a good source of copper. Severe copper deficiency is associated with lower bone mineral density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become thinner and less dense, making them easier to fracture and break.
Copper also plays an important role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin, major structural components of the body. Without sufficient copper, the body cannot replace damaged connective tissue or the collagen that makes up the building blocks for bone. This can lead to a range of issues including joint dysfunction.
Walnuts also contain a high amount of manganese. Manganese has been shown to prevent osteoporosis in combination with the minerals calcium and copper. Magnesium, another mineral in walnuts, is important for bone formation as it helps with the absorption of calcium into the bone.
Male Reproductive Health
Walnuts have many benefits for men because their omega-3 content helps to improve male reproductive health. Increasing walnut intake can benefit men’s fertility and prevent oxidative stress that can affect male reproduction ability.
In a randomized control trial involving 75 participants with male factor infertility, adding 42 grams of walnuts daily to their diet for three months resulted in increased sperm motility and concentration.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Eating walnuts may help lower blood pressure. It is believed that the significant presence of magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts all play a role in helping to accomplish this.
Scientists also have found that regularly consuming a few walnuts increases levels of the hormone melatonin in the blood. This has both an antioxidant effect and helps to lower blood pressure. The ability to lower hypertension is due to the positive effect that melatonin has on the central nervous system.
Walnuts have been found to decrease the desire to continue eating, aiding in weight management. A study from Harvard Medical School showed that people consuming walnut shakes felt fuller compared to those who consumed shakes without nuts.
Additionally, after 5 days of consuming these walnut smoothies, brain scans showed that the participants had increased activation in a region of the brain that helped them resist highly tempting food cues, such as cake and french fries.
The powerful antioxidants in walnuts mean that eating a serving of walnuts every day can boost your skin’s health. One serving of 14 walnut halves contains vitamins C, E, K, and the B-group vitamins, all of which are essential for skin care. Also, minerals found in walnuts like selenium, copper, and zinc help reduce the visible appearance of aging.
Walnuts contain a high amount of linolenic acid. This acid works as an emollient. This means that it will help to fill in the space between the cells of the skin. When you eat walnuts you will soon notice that your skin feels much softer to the touch. This is because of the linolenic acid as it fills the space and makes the skin more supple.
Hair and Scalp Health
Walnuts are also responsible for healthy hair, as the high amounts of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants strengthen hair follicles and make scalp dandruff-free. They also provide thicker, longer, and stronger hair.
Adding walnuts to your diet will provide you with over a dozen life enhancing health benefits that make walnuts the true ingredient in the Fountain of Youth. These benefits are maximized by how these walnuts are provided to you by Northwest Wild Foods: organically grown, environmentally safe harvesting, and raw, shelled and air-dried. Enjoy!!
Cited References for NWWF Blog #10: Raw Organic Walnutshttps://veryhealthy.life/14-health-benefits-of-walnuts-for-your-body/?utm_source=walnuts%20benefits&utm_medium=14HealthBenefitWalnuts&utm_campaign=adw_us&msclkid=1315cc9a4c7118ae8c1ea9ec66408520#google_vignette