10 Proven Benefits of Walnuts

Health and Nutrition
23.10.2019

Walnut kernel is a nut packed with valuable nutrients and phytochemicals which exhibit several health benefits. Walnuts provide 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 good source of protein and other nutrients

Walnuts contain about 13 to 18 % of protein (1). 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 provide other micronutrients such as potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, folate and dietary fiber (2). 

Walnuts contain essential omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (3).

  1. Antioxidant rich walnuts

Antioxidants are molecules which 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 (3, 4). Walnuts also contain phytosterols such as polyphenols and phytomelatonin which have antioxidant property (4). 

  1. Walnuts are rich source of alpha linolenic acid

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid obtained from plant source and must be provided through the diet. Walnuts are rich source of ALA and it contribute towards heart health (3). 

8-14 % of the total fat content is ALA in walnuts (3). 

  1. 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 (4). The ALA content of walnuts is considerable, 8-14 % of the total fat content is ALA (3). 

ALA exhibits several heart healthy benefits. It has a positive effect on the blood lipid profile and also helps reduce inflammation (3). 

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 intake of walnuts (5).

Walnuts can be included in a heart healthy diet.

  1. Walnuts help in weight loss

Walnuts apart from being packed with nutrients also help in reducing weight and in weight management.

In 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 (6).

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 (7).

Though energy dense walnuts in moderation can help in weight management.

 

  1. Walnuts and hypertension

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 (8).

A review of work done on walnuts has shown that one of the two major risk factors of CVDs blood pressure was reduced because of intake of walnuts (5).

 

  1. Walnuts provide phytomelatonin

Walnuts are considered to be one of the best food sources of phytomelatonin a bioavailable melatonin. 

Melatonin is a hormone which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anticancer activities and exhibits neuroprotection. It is also known for its sleep-regulatory role (4).

 

  1. Walnuts help prevent neurodegenerative diseases

Because of our life style there is increased oxidative stress and inflammation which lead to progression of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Primary prevention strategy should be adopting healthy dietary habits. 

The diet should include foods that are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals (9). 

Walnuts are rich sources of phytochemicals such as polyphenols and also contain omega 3 fatty acids. Walnut polyphenols reduce oxidant and inflammatory load on brain cells (9). 

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 (10).

Walnuts are good for our brain cells.

  1. 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, multiple components in walnut may also contribute towards this anti-carcinogenic activity of walnuts (11).

Consuming substantial amounts of nuts, including walnuts appears to have protective effect against development of breast cancer (12).

 

  1. 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 (13).

Diabetic people are also at a higher risk of getting CVDs and walnuts may cut down risk factors of CVDs (5).

Final word

When incorporated in the diet, walnuts not only provide us with several valuable nutrients but as a bonus contribute towards our health too!  Take a fistful of walnuts a day as part of a balanced diet.

 

References

 

  1. Savage, G. (2001) Chemical composition of walnut (Juglans regis L) grown in New Zealand, Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands). Vol. 56 (1).

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12118529_Chemical_composition_of_walnut_Juglans_regis_L_grown_in_New_Zealand

 

  1. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, United States Department of Agriculture. Basic Report:  12155, Nuts, walnuts, English.

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

 

  1. Fatima, T., Showkat, U. and Hussain, S.Z. (2018) Nutritional and health benefits of walnuts, Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. Vol. 7 (2).

http://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2018/vol7issue2/PartR/7-2-169-977.pdf

 

  1. Ros, E., Izquierdo-Pulido, M. and Sala-Vila, A. (2018) Beneficial effects of walnut consumption on human health: Role of micronutrients, Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. Vol. 21 (6).

https://journals.lww.com/co-clinicalnutrition/FullText/2018/11000/Beneficial_effects_of_walnut_consumption_on_human.15.aspx

 

  1. Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2014) Walnuts decrease risk of cardiovascular disease: a summary of efficacy and biologic mechanisms, J Nutr. Vol. 144(4).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24500935

 

  1. Neale, E. P., Tapsell, L. C., Martin, A., Batterham, M. J., Wibisono, C. and Probst, Y. C. (2017) Impact of providing walnut samples in a lifestyle intervention for weight loss: a secondary analysis of the HealthTrack trial, Food & nutrition research. Vol. 61(1). 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510231/

 

  1. Bitok, E., Rajaram, S., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Oda, K., Sala-Vila, A., Serra-Mir, M., Sabaté, J. (2018) Effects of Long-Term Walnut Supplementation on Body Weight in Free-Living Elderly: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial, Nutrients. Vol.10(9). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6163338/

 

  1. Domènech, M., Serra-Mir, M., Roth, I., Freitas-Simoes, T., Valls-Pedret, C., Cofán, M., López, A., Sala-Vila, A., Calvo, C., Rajaram, S., Sabaté, J. and Ros, E. (2019) Effect of a Walnut Diet on Office and 24-Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Elderly Individuals, Hypertension. Vol. 73 (5).

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.118.12766

 

  1. Poulose, S.M., Miller, M.G. and Shukitt-Hale, B. (2014) Role of walnuts in maintaining brain health with age, J Nutr. Vol. 144 (4).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24500933

 

  1. Pandareesh, M. D., Chauhan, V. and Chauhan, A. (2018) Walnut Supplementation in the Diet Reduces Oxidative Damage and Improves Antioxidant Status in Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s disease, Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, JAD. Vol. 64 (4).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6087457/

 

  1. Hardman W. E. (2014) Walnuts have potential for cancer prevention and treatment in mice, The Journal of nutrition. Vol. 144(4).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3952627/

 

  1. Soriano-Hernandez, A. D., Madrigal-Perez, D. G., Galvan-Salazar, H. R., Arreola-Cruz, A., Briseño-Gomez, L., Guzmán-Esquivel, J., Dobrovinskaya, O., Lara-Esqueda, A., Rodríguez-Sanchez, I. P., Baltazar-Rodriguez, L. M., Espinoza-Gomez, F., Martinez-Fierro, M. L., de-Leon-Zaragoza, L., Olmedo-Buenrostro, B. A. and Delgado-Enciso, I. (2015) The Protective Effect of Peanut, Walnut, and Almond Consumption on the Development of Breast Cancer, Gynecol Obstet Invest. Vol. 80 (2).

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jose_Guzman-Esquivel2/publication/285383810_Association_of_Milk_and_Meat_Consumption_with_the_Development_of_Breast_Cancer_in_a_Western_Mexican_Population/links/5665c87b08ae418a786f2c1a.pdf

 

  1. Pan, A., Sun, Q., Manson, J.E., Willett, W.C. and Hu, F.B. (2013) Walnut Consumption Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women, The Journal of Nutrition. Vol.143 (4).

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/143/4/512/4571575

 

  1. Arab, L., Dhaliwal, S. K., Martin, C. J., Larios, A. D., Jackson, N. J. and Elashoff, D. (2018) Association between walnut consumption and diabetes risk in NHANES, Diabetes/metabolism research and reviews. Vol. 34 (7).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6220814/

 

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