Seeds and nuts are an essential part of any healthy diet. Walnuts are among the nuts that are most beneficial to health, and they produce a variety of effects on the body. Funny appearance (braaains!), exquisite flavor, and plenty of nutrients to make it worthy of the superfood title combine to form a nut that is one of the champions of the nut kin.
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Nuts are rich in both calories and nutrients, so their consumption should be limited to a handful a day to avoid gaining extra weight. However, introducing nuts into your menu, if they are not already there, is definitely a good idea, since they are packed with chemicals beneficial to various body systems (unless you are allergic to them).
Another preliminary note: be it walnuts, almonds, pistachios or other healthy nuts, opt for unsalted and raw ones, because this extra salt can bring to naught the lion’s share of the benefits you could receive.
Walnuts are great for the brain
No, it is not the resemblance to this organ that makes the nut beneficial to the brain. According to researchers, the combination of polyphenols, vitamin E and healthy fats help the brain function properly, as they reduce inflammation and help prevent some of the oxidative damage.
Studies suggest that walnuts can promote neurogenesis and improve signaling, and consumption of this kind of nuts is associated with better brain health in aging people.
Experiments on mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease showed that consuming walnuts in amounts equaling 6-9% of total daily calorie intake (for humans, it would be around 30-45 grams a day) can help reduce anxiety and improve memory and cognitive skills.
Walnuts are a well of antioxidants
Of all nuts, walnuts are reportedly richest in antioxidants, which makes them a very good option if you want to eat healthy foods. As they have an antioxidative effect, they can help control oxidized LDL blood levels, which means walnuts are beneficial to heart health and contribute to atherosclerosis prevention.
Abundance of omega-3s
We are used to hearing that fatty fish should be part of our menu, as such species are rich in omega-3s. However, walnuts are also an excellent source of them: one serving (28 g) contains as much as 2.5 g. It is available in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, and eating just one serving of walnuts can provide you with enough ALA to hit your daily requirement mark.
Walnuts for the gut
It is widely known that walnuts are beneficial to heart health, but few know that it can also support the gastrointestinal tract. Experiments revealed that eating one serving of walnuts daily can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, thus improving digestion.
Association with cancer
There have been several observational studies that showed that consumption of walnuts is associated with lower risks of various forms of cancer, such as breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. The effect is attributed to urolithins, which can combat inflammation and block some hormone receptors, thus reducing the risk of cancer forms that develop when some hormone-related systems do not work normally.
This list is not comprehensive, as the high levels of nutrients and antioxidants found in walnuts benefit the body in a variety of ways, so eating a handful of them on a regular basis wouldn’t hurt. If you do not like the taste of nuts alone, add walnuts in desserts or combine them with raisins or other dry fruit.
Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age – Academic.oup.com/journals
Effect of a walnut meal on postprandial oxidative stress and antioxidants in healthy individuals – Nutritionj.biomedcentral.com