Health Benefits Of Walnuts
If you’ve heard walnuts are really good for you and are considering upping your intake, you're on the right track! Just a quarter cup can help some patients with type 2 diabetes manage their condition better, and a handful may be enough antioxidants to provide protection for your heart, brain, hair, skin, and more. The omega-3 fatty acids in these nuts can cut inflammation, while the melatonin can help you get a good night’s rest. Which is why walnuts are good for just about everyone (barring those with a walnut allergy)!
Walnuts are among the best sources of protective nutrients there are around, packed into a powerful little package. Giving you everything from B vitamins, to omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and more, these odd brain-shaped nuts are better for your health than you’d imagine!1 Whether you’re looking for something to protect your heart, ward off cancer, slow aging, fight free radical damage, or just give you great looking skin and hair – look no further.
Improve Heart Health
The anti-atherogenic properties of walnut extracts driven by the ellagic acid in the nut can help offer protection for your cardiac system.2 This component of the nuts helps prevent plaque formation which hardens arteries and has been associated with increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.3 In addition, omega-3 fatty acids that walnut contains are anti-inflammatory, may improve endothelial function and plaque buildup, and could also reduce incidents like arrhythmias which could cause heart attacks or strokes. Which is why the American Heart Association recommends consuming walnuts as well as other omega-3 fatty acid rich foods to protect your heart.4
Tank Up On Antioxidants
Walnuts pack in a lot of antioxidants power including polyphenolic compounds and flavonoids.5 These compounds can benefit your body in a host of ways, not the least of which is slowing down the aging process resulting from stress and free radical damage.
The ellagitannins and ellagic acid in walnuts are of particular importance6 because they can help suppress the formation of certain cancers in the body like that of the colon. The ellagic acid is believed to act by bringing on apoptosis or cell death of cancerous cells in the colon.7 Animal studies have also yielded positive results. Due to the benefits in controlling breast, renal, and prostate cancers, researchers suggest the inclusion of walnuts in the diet, as a food with cancer prevention potential.8
Improve Quality Of Sperm
Male reproductive health, specifically sperm health, can improve with the addition of walnuts in the diet. As one study found, adding half a cup of the nuts to the diet of men of reproductive age helped overall semen quality, improving sperm morphology, motility, and vitality. This is possibly due to the increased levels of omega-6 fatty acids and the ALA omega-3 fatty acids in the blood, (needed for healthy semen/sperm health)resulting from walnut consumption.9
Support Brain Health
Age-related deterioration of the brain could be slowed by harnessing the benefits of walnuts. As animal studies have shown, the nuts could cut risk as well as delay onset and slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.10 The nut contains neuroprotective compounds like polyphenols that have antioxidant properties, as well as n-3 α-linolenic fatty acid, folate, and vitamin E. Even in young adults, it has been shown to improve inferential reasoning abilities.11
Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Individuals with type 2 diabetes may see an improvement in their condition after consuming walnuts over a sustained period of time. In one study, overweight adults who also had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were given a quarter cup of walnuts to eat every day for several months. Within just three months, they saw a significant drop in their fasting insulin levels.12 Other researchers have said that because of their anti-inflammatory action, walnuts can offer protection against insulin resistance and even diabetes, both consequences of low-grade inflammation.13
Among other things, walnuts also contain melatonin and researchers have found that consuming them raised levels of blood melatonin in animal studies.14 Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleeping and waking cycles. The body naturally has higher levels at night when you need to turn in. Some research has shown that it can help reduce the time it takes you to actually fall asleep besides also cutting how often you have awakenings at night, allowing for less disturbed sleep.15
Cut Inflammation, Improve Arthritis Symptoms
The Arthritis Foundation names walnuts as one of the foods they recommend for those with arthritis, a condition which is marked by inflammation in the body, causing aching and swollen joints. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce levels of inflammation markers like C-reactive protein in the body.16
Nurture A Great Head Of Hair
The omega-6 fatty acids17 in walnuts as well as the vitamin B7/biotin help prevent hair fall and strengthen hair follicles. A biotin deficiency has been implicated in hair fall so getting in some from your diet18, to prevent deficiency, by munching on some walnuts shouldn’t hurt! They also prevent dandruff from striking and keep fungal infections including ringworm at bay.
Keep That Skin Glowing
Walnuts contain vitamins that your skin needs to keep its youthful well-nourished look. Antioxidants, something walnuts have in plenty, help fight free radical damage to the skin, the action responsible for aging your skin and bringing on wrinkles and discoloration. The omega-3 fatty acids are considered food for skin too, with possible applications in fighting psoriasis and photo/sun sensitivity to UV rays.19 Walnut oil can be applied topically to moisturize your skin naturally and have been known to help relax the eyes and reduce puffiness and dark circles, though these results are more anecdotal at the moment.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Nuts, walnuts, english. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|2.||↑||Papoutsi, Z., E. Kassi, I. Chinou, M. Halabalaki, L. A. Skaltsounis, and P. Moutsatsou. “Walnut extract (Juglans regia L.) and its component ellagic acid exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in human aorta endothelial cells and osteoblastic activity in the cell line KS483.” British Journal of Nutrition 99, no. 04 (2008): 715-722.|
|3.||↑||Schächinger, Volker, and Andreas M. Zeiher. “Atherogenesis—recent insights into basic mechanisms and their clinical impact.” Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation 17, no. 12 (2002): 2055-2064.|
|4.||↑||Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease. American Heart Association.|
|5, 6.||↑||Regueiro, Jorge, Claudia Sánchez-González, Anna Vallverdú-Queralt, Jesús Simal-Gándara, Rosa Lamuela-Raventós, and Maria Izquierdo-Pulido. “Comprehensive identification of walnut polyphenols by liquid chromatography coupled to linear ion trap–Orbitrap mass spectrometry.” Food chemistry 152 (2014): 340-348.|
|7.||↑||Larrosa, Mar, Francisco A. Tomás-Barberán, and Juan Carlos Espín. “The dietary hydrolysable tannin punicalagin releases ellagic acid that induces apoptosis in human colon adenocarcinoma Caco-2 cells by using the mitochondrial pathway.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 17, no. 9 (2006): 611-625.|
|8.||↑||Hardman, W. Elaine. “Walnuts have potential for cancer prevention and treatment in mice.” The Journal of nutrition 144, no. 4 (2014): 555S-560S.|
|9.||↑||Robbins, Wendie A., Lin Xun, Leah Z. FitzGerald, Samantha Esguerra, Susanne M. Henning, and Catherine L. Carpenter. “Walnuts improve semen quality in men consuming a Western-style diet: randomized control dietary intervention trial.” Biology of reproduction 87, no. 4 (2012): 101.|
|10.||↑||Muthaiyah, Balu, Musthafa M. Essa, Moon Lee, Ved Chauhan, Kulbir Kaur, and Abha Chauhan. “Dietary supplementation of walnuts improves memory deficits and learning skills in transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 42, no. 4 (2014): 1397-1405.|
|11.||↑||Pribis, Peter, Rudolph N. Bailey, Andrew A. Russell, Marcia A. Kilsby, Magaly Hernandez, Winston J. Craig, Tevni Grajales, David J. Shavlik, and Joan Sabate. “Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults.” British journal of nutrition 107, no. 09 (2012): 1393-1401.|
|12.||↑||Tapsell, Linda C., M. J. Batterham, Grigorijs Teuss, Sze Yen Tan, S. Dalton, Cassandra J. Quick, Lynda J. Gillen, and Karen E. Charlton. “Long-term effects of increased dietary polyunsaturated fat from walnuts on metabolic parameters in type II diabetes.” European journal of clinical nutrition 63, no. 8 (2009): 1008-1015.|
|13.||↑||Casas-Agustench, Patricia, Mònica Bulló, and Jordi Salas-Salvadó. “Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 19, no. 1 (2010): 124-130.|
|14.||↑||Reiter, Russel J., L. C. Manchester, and Dun-xian Tan. “Melatonin in walnuts: influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood.” Nutrition 21, no. 9 (2005): 920-924.|
|15.||↑||Melatonin and Sleep. National Sleep Foundation.|
|16.||↑||Best Nuts and Seeds for Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.|
|17.||↑||Omega 6 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|18.||↑||Zempleni, Janos, Yousef I. Hassan, and Subhashinee SK Wijeratne. “Biotin and biotinidase deficiency.” Expert review of endocrinology & metabolism 3, no. 6 (2008): 715-724.|
|19.||↑||Omega 3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center.|