Walnuts: Definition, Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, and More

Walnuts

Walnuts are a healthy nut chock-full of essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They’re also eaten to incorporate into your diet. Walnuts have good fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can help your health. Scientists and experts have met yearly for 50 years at the University of California, Davis, for a walnut conference to talk about the latest walnut health research. The most common walnut type is the English walnut, which is also the most studied. For more research you can also visit Wikipedia.

What are Walnuts?

Walnuts are packed with important nutrients making them a healthy choice. They’re also easy to add to your meals. Walnuts give you good fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, which can all contribute to your well-being. In fact, there’s been so much interest in walnuts that scientists and experts from the industry have been meeting every year for the past 50 years at the University of California, Davis, for a conference specifically about walnuts and their health benefits. The most common type of walnut is the English walnut, also known as Juglans regia, and it’s the type that’s been studied the most.

What are the Nutrition Facts of Walnuts?

Walnuts are a type of nut that grows on trees. They are round in shape and have a hard outer shell. Inside, they contain a wrinkled kernel that is rich in nutrients. Walnuts are known for their distinct flavor and crunchy texture. They are a good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Consuming walnuts regularly can provide numerous health benefits, including improving heart health, supporting brain function, and aiding in weight management.

Nutrition Facts:

Walnuts are made up of 65% fat and 15% of protein. They’re low in carbs, most of which consist of fiber. A 1-ounce (30 grams) serving of walnuts about 14 halves provides the following nutrients. Such as:

  • Calories: 185
  • Water: 4%
  • Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Protein: 4.3 grams
  • Sugar: 0.7 grams
  • Fiber: 1.9 grams
  • Fat: 18.5 grams

Fats:

Walnuts are high in fat, making up about 65% of their weight. Most of their calories come from fat, making them an energy-dense food. Despite being rich in fat and calories, studies show that walnuts don’t increase the risk of obesity when they replace other foods in your diet. Compared to other nuts, walnuts are particularly high in polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. They also contain a good amount of omega-3 fat called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), making up about 8-14 % of their total fat content. Walnuts are the only nuts that contain significant amounts of ALA. ALA is known for its heart health benefits and its ability to reduce inflammation and improve blood fat composition.

Vitamins and Minerals:

Walnuts are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Copper
  • Folic acid
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B6
  • Manganese
  • Vitamins E

Other Plant Compounds:

Walnuts are packed with various plant compounds, including a rich concentration of antioxidants found in their brown skin. In a study comparing the antioxidant content of 1,113 commonly eaten foods in the United States, walnuts ranked second. Some notable plant compounds found in walnuts include:

  • Ellagic acid.
  • Catechin.
  • Melatonin.
  • Phytic acid.

What are the Health Benefits of Walnuts?

Here are some health benefits of walnuts. Such as:

Full of Antioxidants:

Walnuts have more antioxidants than other nuts thanks to vitamin E, melatonin, and plant compounds called polyphenols. These polyphenols are especially abundant in the skin of walnuts.

Excellent Plant Based Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Walnuts contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids nuts, with 25 grams per 1- ounce serving. The omega-3s in walnuts called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are essential fats that your body needs from your diet. According to the Institutes of Medicine, men need 1.6 grams of ALA per day, and women need 1.1 grams. A single serving of walnuts meets this requirement. Research indicates that consuming more ALA in your diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions like heart disease and arrhythmia.

Might Reduce Inflammation:

Inflammation, often caused by oxidative stress, is linked to various diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Among these, ellagitannins are particularly important. They are converted by beneficial gut bacteria into compounds called urolithins, which help protect against inflammation. Walnuts also contain ALA, omega-3 fats, magnesium, and the amino acid arginine, all of which may contribute to reducing inflammation.

Support Digestive Health:

Research indicates that having a drivers and healthy population of bacteria and other microbes in your gut, known as gut microbiota, is linked to good digestive health and overall well-being. An unhealthy balance of gut microbiota can lead to inflammation and disease in your gut and elsewhere in your body, increasing the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, and cancer. What you eat can significantly affect the composition of your microbiota, including walnuts in your diet may help support the health of your gut microbiota. In a study from 2018, 194 healthy adults ate 1.5 oz (43 g) of walnuts daily for 8 weeks. The participants showed an increase in beneficial bacteria compared to a period when they didn’t eat walnuts. This included an increase in bacteria that produce butyrate, a type of fat that supports gut health.

Might Lower the Chance of Certain Cancer:

Studies in animals and a few human trials suggests that including walnuts in your diet might decrease the risk of specific cancers like breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Walnuts contain polyphenols called ellagitannins, which can be converted by gut microbes into compounds called urolithins. These urolithins have anti-inflammatory effects in the gut, potentially lowering the risk of colorectal cancer. They may also help protect against other cancers by reducing inflammation. Additionally, urolithins have properties similar to hormones, allowing them to block hormone receptors in the body. This blocking action could potentially reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancers. However, more human studies are necessary to fully understand the impact of consuming walnuts on cancer risk.

Help with Managing the Weight:

Walnuts are packed with calories, but a small study from 2016 suggests that your body absorbs about 21% less energy from them compared to what would be expected based on their nutrients. Furthermore, including walnuts in your diet might help control your appetite. In a well-controlled study involving 10 people with obesity, drinking a smoothie made with around 1.75 oz (48 g) of walnuts once a day for 5 days reduced participants’ appetite and hunger compared to a placebo drink with the same calories and nutrients. Additionally, after 5 days of having walnut smoothies, brain scans showed increased activity in a brain region associated with resisting strong food temptations, such as cake and French fries.

Might Assist in Managing and Reducing the Risk of Type-2 Diabetes:

Studies indicate that one reason walnuts might lower the risk of type-2 diabetes is by aiding in weight management, as excess weight raises the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes. Eating walnuts may also help regulate blood sugar through mechanisms beyond weight control. In a small 2016 study, 100 people with type 2 diabetes took 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed walnut oil daily for 3 months alongside their usual diabetes medication and balanced diet. This led to an 8% decrease in fasting blood sugar and an 8% decrease in hemoglobin A1C (a 3-months average of blood sugar levels). The control group, who didn’t take walnut oil, didn’t show any improvement in these measures, and neither group experienced changes in weight. Other research suggests that adding walnuts to your diet could slightly improve blood glucose levels. However, it’s essential to note that consuming walnut oil isn’t the same as eating whole walnuts.

Might Aid in Reducing Blood Pressure:

A small study from 2019 suggests that including walnuts in your diet may contribute to lowering blood pressure, even in individuals with high blood pressure. Moreover, a research review from 2019 looked into the effects of a Mediterranean diet, which commonly includes walnuts and other nuts. The review found that adhering to a Mediterranean diet might help decrease blood pressure in certain individuals. These findings indicate that nuts like walnuts could enhance the blood pressure benefits of a heart-healthy diet. Even minor changes in blood pressure are believed to significantly affect the risk of heart disease.

Help with Staying Healthy as You Age:

As you get older staying physically fit is crucial for keeping your mobility and independence. Maintaining healthy eating habits can be key to preserving your physical abilities. In a study that observed over 50,000 women for 18 years, researchers discovered that those with the healthiest diets had a 13% lower risk of physical impairment. Walnuts were identified as one of the foods that played a significant role in promoting a healthy diet. Despite being calories-dense, walnuts contain essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats, and plant compounds that could aid in maintaining good physical function as you age.

Help with Keeping Your Brain Healthy:

It might just be a coincidence that the shell of a walnut resembles a tiny brain but research suggests that this nut could be beneficial for your mind. Studies involving both animals and humans indicate that the nutrients and antioxidants in walnuts might help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation by combining free radicals. A study in mice from 2016 suggests that walnut extract could improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, a 2019 study in humans discovered that individuals with depression experienced symptom improvement when nuts, including walnuts, were included in their diet. Research in mice has also linked walnut consumption to enhanced brain function, such as improvements in memory, learning skills, motor development, and anxiety-related behavior. While these findings are promising, more research on the effects of walnuts on brain function in humans is necessary before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

Help with Reproductive Health in Men:

Standard Western diets, which are high in processed foods, sugar, and refined grains, have been associated with decreased sperm function. Including walnuts in your diet might support sperm health and male fertility. In a 2012 study involving 117 healthy young men, those who consumed 2.5 oz (75 g) of walnuts daily for 3 months as part of a Western-style diet showed improvements in sperm shape, vitality, and motility compared to those who didn’t eat nuts. Animal studies suggest that walnuts may safeguard sperm by reducing oxidative damage in their membranes. More research is required to fully understand these benefits. However, if you’re concerned about fertility and sperm function, adding walnuts to your diet is a simple step to consider.

Help with Improving Blood Fat Levels:

High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides have long been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Regularly consuming walnuts has consistently been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. In a small 2017 study involving healthy adults, eating 1.5 oz (43 g) of walnuts daily for 8 weeks resulted in a 5% decrease in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides compared to not consuming walnuts. Moreover, participants who ate walnuts experienced a nearly 6% decrease in apo-lipoprotein B levels, which indicates the number of LDL particles in the blood. Elevated Apo-lipoprotein B is a significant risk factor for heart disease.

Easy to Find and Simple to Include in Your Meals:

You can find walnuts easily in any grocery store. Look for raw walnuts in the baking aisle, roasted walnuts in the nut side, and cold-pressed walnut oil in the specialty oils section. Understanding how serving sizes compare can be helpful. The following servings are roughly the same, providing about 190 calories each:

1 oz shelled walnuts = 28 g =1/4 cup= 12-14 halves = 1 small handful

While eating walnuts as a snack is simple, there are many tasty ways to incorporate them into dishes. You can try walnuts:

  • Sprinkled on leafy green or fruit salads.
  • Finely ground in dips and sauces.
  • Chopped as a coating to whole grain breads and scones.
  • Crushed as a coating on fish or chicken.
  • Served on oatmeal or yogurt.
  • Added to wraps or pita sandwiches.
  • Roasted and mixed into homemade trail mix.
  • Lightly browned in stir-fry recipes.
  • Roasted or chopped on pasta or vegetables.
  • Used as an oil in vinaigrette dressing.
  • Before using walnuts in your dishes, ensure that none of your guests have a walnut allergy. You can also find plenty of tasty recipe ideas online.

Nuts are a tasty, convenient treat that can be enjoyed on all kinds of diets, from keto to vegan. Despite being high in fat, they have many impressive health and weight benefits. Some here are the top 8 health benefits of eating nuts.

  • Nutrient-rich option
  • Packed with antioxidants
  • Help with weight loss
  • Help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides levels
  • Helpful for Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
  • Help reduce inflammation
  • Rich in beneficial fiber
  • Help lower your risk of heart attack and strokes

What are the Adverse Effects and Individual Concerns of Walnuts?

Here are some potential adverse effects and individual concerns related to walnuts:

  • Allergies
  • Digestive issues
  • Reduced mineral absorption
  • Weight gain
  • Oxalate content
  • Interactions with medications
  • Fungal contamination

It’s essential to consume walnuts in moderation as part of a balanced diet and to be mindful of any personal health concerns or allergies when incorporating them into your eating habits. If your specific health conditions or concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized guidance.

Which Nuts to Eat for Better Health?

Here are some top 9 nuts that are beneficial for your health:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pine nuts

Incorporating a variety of nuts into your diet can provide a range of nutrients and health benefits. Enjoy them as a snack, add them to salads, smoothies, or incorporate them into your favorite recipes for better health.

What are the Health Benefits of Tahini?

Tahini is a kind of nut butter made from toasted sesame seeds that have had their shells removed. People from North Africa, Greece, Iran, Turkey, And the Middle East often use it in their cooking. It’s a key ingredient in dishes like hummus and baba ghanoush. Baba ghanoush is like hummus, but it’s made with eggplant instead of chickpeas. 

What is the Nutrition Value of Tahini? 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, a serving of tahini is 2 tablespoons, which is about 30 grams. In this serving, there are:

  • 178 calories 
  • 16.13 grams of fat
  • 6.36 grams of carbohydrates 
  • 2.8 grams of fiber 
  • 0.15 grams of sugar 
  • 5.1 grams of protein

In the same serving, tahini provides:

  • 8% of daily magnesium needs
  • 22% of daily phosphorus needs 
  • 14% of daily iron needs 
  • 12% of daily calcium needs

Even though tahini has a lot of fat, only 2 out of the 16 grams in a 2 tablespoon serving are saturated fats. The rest are healthy unsaturated fats, which are good for your heart health and overall health. Sesame seeds, which tahini is made from, have more phytosterols than other nuts and seeds. These are important because they help lower cholesterol and may prevent cancer. Sesame seeds have many other nutrients, but they’re hard for the body to absorb because of their tough outer layer. Eating tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds, helps your body absorb these nutrients better. 

What are the Health Benefits of Tahini?

Tahini boasts a range of health benefits to enrich any meal. 

What are the Risks of Tahini?

Because tahini has a lot of fat, it also has many calories, so it’s best to enjoy it in moderation for the most health benefits. Many people who are allergic to tree nuts are also likely to be allergic to sesame seeds. Remember, no single food or nutrient is the most important for staying healthy and preventing disease. It’s better to eat a mix of different foods to keep a balanced diet rather than focusing too much on any one food. 

FAQs:

What is the most nutritious way to eat nuts?

The best way to consume nuts for optimal nutrition is to eat them whole, without added salt and sugar. Nuts are naturally rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to your diet.

Which nuts are least fattening?

All nuts are calorie-dense, peanuts and pistachios tend to have slightly fewer calories per serving compared to other nuts. Additionally, hazelnuts and almonds contain less saturated fat compared to some other nut types, making them a healthier option for heart health.

What is the unhealthiest nut to eat?

Macadamia nuts have the most calories, and Brazil nuts have the most saturated fats of all the nut types.

What happens if we eat 1 walnut daily?

One walnut into your diet can offer several health benefits. Here are some potential outcomes:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Protection against oxidative stress
  • Improved heart health
  • Brain health

What Is the best time to eat walnuts?

The best time to eat walnuts is in the morning. You can soak 6 to 8 halves of walnuts overnight and consume them on an empty stomach in the morning.

Can I eat almonds and walnuts together?

Yes, you can eat soaked raisins, almonds, and walnuts together on an empty stomach. This combination provides a mix of nutrients including fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants.

What nuts improve sperm?

Various nuts including walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts, have been associated with improvements in sperm health. In a study, men who consumed walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts experienced a 16 percent increase in sperm count along with notable improvements in sperm vitality, motility (movement) and morphology (shape and size). Additionally, these men had less fragmented sperm DNA, indicating that their sperm was better equipped for fertilization. Therefore, incorporating these nuts into the diet may support sperm health and improve fertility.

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