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 from Persia, it is known as Persian walnut.
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 are 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. In addition, the high fibre content gives satiety for more extended periods. Hence, including walnuts in your diet helps in weight loss.
A study suggests that a walnut induced diet promote better weight loss than other energy diets. So, if you want to lose weight, you should include walnuts in your diet. It will make you feel full for longer and thus, aid weight loss.
Helps Boost Energy
As per studies, the vitamin B content in walnuts helps boost energy levels. A boost in energy levels may benefit you in many ways. First, it will keep you active throughout the day and thus, help you manage weight. That is because when we feel energised, we are more likely to stay active.
You can add some walnuts to a cup of yoghurt and eat a handful as a mid snack or to a smoothie for breakfast to boost energy levels.
Helps in Weight Management
Besides all the other health benefits of walnuts, they can be a great tool in weight management. That is because walnuts contain loads of fibre, protein, and fats, which help you feel satiated and prevent binge eating. However, you need to check the portion size, as walnuts have high fat and calories.
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 and can do wonders.
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 helps reduce the risk, delay the onset, or slow the cognitive impairment and dementia progression.
A healthy diet can help with depression, but studies show that having low systemic levels of omega-3 can be harmful. Since walnuts have plenty of omega-3, they may help in the prevention of depression.
Hence, it is safe to say that walnuts are the superfoods of your brain. And that is why people call it brain food.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Walnuts contain potent antioxidants such as vitamin E, which make your skin look healthy and supple. In addition, vitamin E helps fight free radical damage caused due to oxidative stress. Free radical damage may damage your skin cells and lead to premature ageing and other skin issues. Thus, consuming walnuts may help improve your skin health.
You can also use walnut oil to prevent your skin from getting dry – this makes it a perfect addition to your skin routine.
Walnuts are replete with essential fatty acids, which can boost metabolism. Research has shown that a handful of walnuts can boost slow-moving metabolism, help with digestion, growth, development, & 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 play crucial roles in the ageing process, dementia, and many age-related diseases. Walnuts contain multiple components with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These components may have additive or synergistic effects in suppressing inflammation and oxidative damage.
A study demonstrates that walnuts reduce oxidative stress by decreasing free radical levels and boosting antioxidant defence. As a result, walnuts help reduce oxidative damage to proteins and lipids.
Inflammation can also lead to many other diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and allergies. Walnuts can prove beneficial because they have anti-inflammatory properties. 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.
So, you should include walnuts in your daily diet and keep your heart healthy.
Helps Prevent Cancer
Cancer may not be entirely the result of novel or inherited genetic mutations. However, it is a largely preventable disease. Research says that biochemicals, including omega-3 fatty acids, tocopherols etc., present in walnuts have cancer-prevention properties. Multiple components present in walnuts contribute through numerous pathways to suppress the risk of developing cancer.
For example, walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. As a result, they help reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage. Thus, walnuts may help reduce the growth of many cancers such as prostate, breast, pancreatic cancers.
One of the benefits of walnuts is improved sperm vitality and motility. They also might help produce sperms, enhance the quality of sperms, and prevent sperm morphology or abnormal sperm growth.
Research proves that the addition of walnuts to your daily diet may increase sperm count and mobility. As per the research, preliminary fertility data suggests walnuts may enhance the probability of pregnancy for men with male factor infertility.
Strengthens Hair and Nails
Walnuts contain essential fatty acids like linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. These fatty acids prevent the loss of scalp hair and eyebrows. In addition, they help nourish and strengthen your hair to improve hair health.
Walnut oil may help reduce dandruff and reduce inflammation on your scalp. The lightweight texture of the oil allows it to penetrate deep into the hair shaft, moisturise it and reduce dandruff. In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties of walnuts help soothe and relax an inflamed scalp. As a result, it helps relieve itching, dandruff and any discomfort.
Massaging your scalp with walnut oil or scrub may help stimulate oil production and dormant hair follicles to improve shine and hair growth.
The high biotin, vitamin E and vitamin B in walnuts help strengthen your nails and improve nail health. In addition, it also helps keep your nails straight.
Helps Give You a Better Sleep
Walnuts contain an amino acid named tryptophan, which helps in regulating the body clock. Our body uses the amino acid to produce serotonin and melatonin, both involved in regulating sleep.
Thus, one serving of walnuts before bedtime may help improve your sleep quality and regulate the sleep cycle.
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.
- To benefit from walnuts, knowing the correct dosage is very important. The appropriate dose of walnuts is 8-10 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 its 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.
- Too much of anything can be harmful. For example, consuming too many walnuts may cause weight gain because of high calories and kidney stones due to their oxalate content.
- You must not have walnuts if you are allergic to nuts.
- 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.
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. Walnuts are an excellent source of essential fat. Consuming 7-8 walnuts or a handful in a day can help you reap its benefits.
Q. What are the benefits of eating walnuts?
A. Walnuts have several benefits. Adding walnuts to your diet may improve heart health, brain health, keep blood pressure in check and make you manage weight. 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. However, they may also cause kidney stones because of the oxalate content present in them. In addition, high consumption of walnuts may also lead to diarrhoea.
Q. When should I eat walnuts morning or night?
A. You can consume walnuts anytime in the day. You can soak walnuts at night and munch them first thing in the morning, or you can keep a bowl of soaked walnuts near your bed and have them before you sleep. You can add some soaked almonds to a cup of yoghurt and eat it as a midday snack. However, the best time to eat them is in the morning.
Q. What are the health benefits of walnuts?
A. Improved cognitive function, healthy heart, younger-looking skin, weight loss etc., are some of the benefits mentioned earlier.
Q. How many walnuts can I eat a day?
A. 8-10 walnuts you can eat in a day.
Q. What are the disadvantages of walnuts?
A. If you are allergic to walnuts, you should avoid eating walnuts. Moreover, over-consumption of walnuts can lead to high levels of phytate in the body, an anti-nutrient. Phytate hinders mineral absorption in the body.
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 altogether avoid walnuts.
Q. Can walnuts be eaten empty stomach?
A. Yes, you should consume them 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. In addition, this amino acid helps in regulating the sleep cycle.
Q.Should I soak walnuts before eating?
A. You can soak walnuts if you want to. However, there is no mandatory step to soak walnuts before consuming them. You can consume soaked walnut the next day, as moisture will reduce its shelf life.
Q.Do walnuts increase blood pressure?
A. No, they help in regulating heart health.
Q.Is Walnut good for cholesterol?
A. Yes, as it contains omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, good fats and is healthy for the body.
Q. Are walnuts a blood thinner?
A. No. However, walnuts help in improving heart health and reducing plaque formation.
Q. Can walnuts lower blood sugar?
A. Walnuts are low glycemic index foods with high fibre content.
Q. Are walnuts better than almonds?
A. Both the nuts are beneficial in their ways if consumed in proper amounts.
Q. Do walnuts increase brainpower?
A. Yes. Walnuts increase brain power.
Q.How many calories are in one walnut?
A. Approximately a walnut has 45 calories.
Q. Is Walnut good for weight loss?
A. Yes, it is suitable for weight loss.