Walnuts are nutritionally rich nuts loaded with protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. They are linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic lifestyle conditions.
In a study investigating more than 1,000 foods commonly eaten in the USA, walnuts ranked second in terms of being nutritionally healthy. These brown-skinned nuts are packed with calories, most of which come from healthy fat and protein, lowering the risk of obesity with nuts intake. Walnuts are considered superfoods since, among many nuts, they are the only type with a significant amount of the heart-friendly omega- 3 fatty acids. Walnuts have several antioxidants, including ellagic acids, phytic acid, melatonin, and catechin, all of which add on to their benefits to heart health. Here are the nutrition facts and health packs of eating walnuts.
Walnuts 101: Nutritional profile
Besides, walnuts are rich in essential fats, which the body cannot manufacture but relies on the diet to source them. The majority of fat content in these nuts is the linoleic fatty acids or omega- 6s whose excess accumulation is related to increased inflammation and higher risks of heart diseases. Thankfully, walnuts balance the pro-inflammatory omega- 6s with the anti-inflammatory omega- 3s, reducing the effects of the damaging inflammation process. 8%-14% of the total fat content of walnuts comprises omega- 3s, making it the best nut source for omega- 3s.
Walnuts boast minerals, vitamins, and powerful antioxidants
Walnuts are good nut sources of vitamins B6, B9, and E, as well as manganese, copper, and phosphorus minerals. The vitamins help the body in a number of ways, including energy conversion, fetal development, and fighting free radicals, particularly for vitamin E. contrarily, the minerals help strengthen bones and boost their mineral content and promote blood formation. In fact, deficiencies of these minerals and vitamins jeopardize health, paving the way for serious medical conditions.
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, particularly melatonin, catechin, vitamin E, and phytic acid. The first three natural compounds promote health, and their very presence in walnuts is why walnuts are heart-friendly. Besides, all these antioxidants actively participate in fighting free radicals whose accumulation results in oxidative stress and increased risks of chronic diseases such as heart failure, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Phytic acids may limit the absorption of some nutrients, but they also help increase the body’s total antioxidant count.
Health benefits related to walnuts
Many health perks come with eating walnuts. They include but are not limited to;
i. Eating walnuts boosts your body’s total antioxidant count (TAC)
Every time you eat antioxidant-rich foods, you boost your TAC, which, in turn, informs how well it can ward off the dangerous free radicals, oxidative stress, and dangerous inflammation, as well as the conditions linked to them. Walnuts are rich in several antioxidants, including phytic acid, ellagic acid, melatonin, vitamin E, and catechin, all of which increase your TAC. As such, they help lower the risk of most chronic conditions.
ii. Eating walnuts adds the body’s fiber content
Fibers are indigestible carbs that help the body in several ways. Although they are not absorbed, they keep the good and bad bacteria balanced, boosting gut health and improving general health. Fibers also mix with food to form gelatin, a gel-like substance that moves slowly across the alimentary canal. This slows down digestion and promotes fullness, as would contribute to the weight loss quest. Besides, fibers help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and are linked to good heart health. Additionally, fibers add bulk to stool, making your loo visits more comfortable.
iii. Eating walnuts promotes heart health
You can snack walnuts alone or incorporate them into your salads, pasta, soup, or home-made bread to promote heart health. The antioxidants in walnuts reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in heart cells, lowering heart disease risks. Besides, antioxidants and fibers lower blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol levels, further scaling down heart disease risks. Lastly, omega- 3 fats in walnuts are anti-inflammatory and balance out with pro-inflammatory omega- 6s to keep the heart-friendly.
iv. Eating nuts may help promote brain health and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases
Walnuts are generally considered brain-friendly foods, and walnuts are no exception to this. The antioxidants herein found help fight free radicals that accumulate in brain cells, damaging them through oxidative stress. As if that’s not enough, omega- 3s and the antioxidants help fight inflammation, which, alongside oxidative stress, increases the risks for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other neurodegenerative conditions. Besides, eating nuts, including walnuts, has always been linked to a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Issues with walnut consumption
Despite the many health benefits related to walnuts, there are a few things you need to know about them.
- Walnuts are among the most allergenic foods and may cause mild to severe allergic symptoms, including anaphylaxis or allergic shock to those who are allergic to nuts
- Walnuts are fairly rich in phytate or phytic acid, an antioxidant with antinutrient properties, and is closely linked to iron and zinc malabsorption, but this majorly affect those who rely on plant-based diets only
Walnuts are among the healthiest nuts, and incorporating them into your diet as snacks or having them alongside salads, pasta, soups, etc., is a healthy move. They are nutritious and boast minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats. If you are not allergic to nuts, eating walnuts will help improve your brain and heart health and could also support your weight loss quest.