by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Have you ever wondered why walnuts are so popular? Walnuts are a nutritional powerhouse, with more omega-3 fatty acids than most nuts and a high concentration of antioxidants. They’re also one of the most affordable nuts and are delicious!
If you’re looking for a healthy snack that will keep you full longer than other snacks, try eating walnuts instead of chips or other salty snacks. Walnuts also make great additions to salads, soups, and baked goods.
In this article, we are going to discuss some health benefits of this magical nut that tastes amazing, can be used in recipes, and is full of key nutrients.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor before changing your diet to ensure the changes can benefit you and not interact with any health condition or medications you may be taking.
7 Health Benefits of Walnut
Walnuts are sweet, crunchy, and delicious. They are loaded with nutrients, including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. Walnuts are also known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The following are seven health benefits of walnuts:
1. Full of antioxidants
Walnuts are one of the highest sources of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent oxidative damage. This helps to promote healthy aging and lower the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.
A small study in healthy adults suggested that consuming a walnut-rich meal can prevent oxidative damage of LDL “bad” cholesterol after eating. On the other hand, a refined-fat meal did not.
That is good for you because oxidized LDL is susceptible to building up in the arteries, which can cause atherosclerosis.
2. Anti-cancer properties
Walnuts can fight the risk of cancer. Walnuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants, which are thought to help protect against certain cancers, including ovarian cancer. There’s some evidence that eating walnuts can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
3. Good for the brain
Walnuts resemble the human brain (in terms of appearance) and have properties that improve brain health. Walnuts contain an essential fatty acid called omega-3 fatty acid that is good for brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent memory loss, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and dementia. It also boosts the immune system by increasing immunity cells in the body.
According to animal and test-tube studies, the nutrients in walnuts, which include polyphenols, vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fat, may help decrease oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain.
In another 10-month research of Alzheimer’s disease, mice consumed 6-9% of their calories as walnuts significantly improved memory and anxiety reduction, learning skills compared to a control group without walnuts.
4. They help reduce blood pressure
Walnuts have been found to lower blood pressure by improving the functioning of blood vessels so that more oxygenated blood can be delivered throughout the body. This helps reduce stress on your heart, thereby lowering your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
According to a 2019 study, researchers found that when subjects consumed whole walnuts, they experienced better benefits than when they had a diet with a similar fatty acid profile but not walnuts. The results included reduced central diastolic blood pressure and greater changes to cholesterol profiles.
5. They have mood-boosting properties
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. The antioxidants found in walnuts also contribute to their mood-boosting properties by helping protect your brain from stress-related damage and inflammation. Studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids can significantly affect certain mood disorders.
6. Supports male reproductive health
Walnuts contain good amounts of arginine, an amino acid that’s required by the body to make nitric oxide, a compound that helps relax blood vessels.
In one piece of research, 117 healthy young men put 2.5 ounces of walnuts in their daily diet for three months. After the study, they found that those men had improved vitality, mobility, and sperm shape compared to men who didn’t eat walnuts.
Some animal research suggests that consuming walnuts may help protect sperm by decreasing oxidative damage in their membranes.
7. May help you to lose weight
Walnuts are very high in dietary fiber, but they also contain healthy fats and protein. This combination makes it easier for your body to feel full and satisfied, reducing your appetite, and helping you eat less overall. The fiber in walnuts is also good for your digestion, which can prevent bloating and constipation that may cause you to feel sluggish and tired.
A small trial published in Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism back in 2017 had subjects consume smoothies that either had walnuts or no walnuts for five days (while living in a controlled clinical research space). Adding walnuts to the smoothies showed a reduction in feelings of hunger and enhanced appetite regulation.