California Walnut Health Benefits
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Walnuts don’t only taste delicious, but they’re also extremely healthy for you. There are plenty of studies claiming that walnuts are one of the world’s top superfoods, and eating just an ounce of walnuts a day or about 14 walnut halves may be all it takes to get all the beneficial nutrients walnuts have to offer. Walnuts are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, walnuts have alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids, which studies suggest that both have anti-inflammatory effects. Walnuts are packed full of powerful nutrients like Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, manganese and magnesium, to name a few, that have been linked to the following health benefits:
Plant-Based Protein Protein is one of three macronutrients your body needs, carbohydrates and fats are the other two. Having protein in your diet helps your body rebuild tissues and muscle repair. Protein also helps you feel more full so you’re more likely to skip unhealthy snacks when you have enough protein.
Vegan Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most versatile and critical nutrients for your health. Researchers have linked omega-3’s to improving on a variety of health-related issues. Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids help lower your risk of heart disease, arthritis, and even certain types of cancers. It’s also highly concentrated in the brain, which have led many researchers to believe that omega-3 fatty acids can help support cognitive health and protect against dementia. (1) There are even studies that suggest omega-3 fatty acids can promote good bone health, lower blood pressure, and improve mood. Furthermore, your body cannot synthesize omega-3 fatty acids on its own, meaning that you can usually only get these healthy fats through your diet. Because most of the major sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish, walnuts are a great alternative option for vegans and vegetarians. (2)
Cancer-fighting Properties Walnuts contain a wide variety antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, so it's not surprising to see research on this tree nut showing measurable anti-cancer benefits. Walnuts contain nutrients that help lower the risk for both chronic inflammation and chronic oxidative stress. These two chronic diseases pose one of the greatest threats for cancer development when combined. Walnuts contain some of the most important cancer-fighting properties such as gamma-tocopherol, Omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, and phytonutrients such as the quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin. (3) Of the research on walnuts and their impact on cancer, the most promising studies suggest that the nutrients in walnuts have positive results fighting against colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer. (4)
Heart-Health Walnuts contain a variety of nutrients that promote heart health. One of these nutrients is the Amino acid L-arginine, which supports good blood flow and helps your arteries stay free of plaque. (5) Walnuts also contain the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is anti-inflammatory and may prevent the formation of pathological blood clots. Research shows that people who eat a diet high in ALA have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, Walnuts contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been shown to decrease LDL (harmful) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which have both long been linked to an increased risk for heart disease. Lowering your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack. (6) And in general, adding tree nuts, including walnuts, to your diet has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. (7)
Rare and Powerful Antioxidants It's no secret that antioxidants are crucial to your health. They're believed to help control how fast you age by combating free radicals, which are connected to age-related deterioration. Walnuts contain several unique and rare antioxidants like the phytonutrients quinone juglone, tannin tellimagrandin, and flavonol morin. Vitamin E is another antioxidant found in walnuts and the form of vitamin E in walnuts is particularly beneficial. Walnuts provide a remarkably high level of vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol, which has been found to provide significant protection against cardiovascular health issues. (8)
Weight Control Including walnuts to your diet can help you to maintain your ideal weight over time. Rich in protein and fiber, they’re one of the few nuts that you can eat and help you feel full. Additionally, a Harvard Medical School research study found that people who consumed shakes made with 1.75 ounces of walnuts once a day for five days showed appetite and impulse control to decline unhealthy foods compared to people who had placebo shakes equal in calories and nutrients. (9)
Male Reproductive Health One of the lesser-known benefits of walnuts is their impact on male fertility. Studies on men who consume a Western-style diet suggest that adding 75 grams (a bit over one-half cup) of walnuts daily significantly improved sperm quality, including vitality, mobility, and morphology. (10) Western-style diets are characterized by high consumption of processed foods, sugar and refined grains.
Brain Health Walnuts contain a number of neuroprotective compounds that support brain health and memory function, such as vitamin E, folate, melatonin, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Research also shows walnut consumption to increase inferential reasoning in young adults. (11) Observational studies in older adults have linked walnuts to better brain function, which includes faster processing speed, more mental flexibility and better memory. The omega-3’s found in walnuts also play a part by reducing oxidative stress in the brain as well as by improving brain signaling and neurogenesis. (12)
Diabetes The beneficial polyunsaturated fat in walnuts have been linked to improving metabolic parameters in people with Type 2 diabetes. Within 3 months of including walnuts in their diet, overweight adults with Type 2 diabetes who ate one-quarter cup of walnuts daily were able to significantly lower fasting insulin levels compared to those who did not. (13) Other studies suggest walnuts are linked to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes because their high protein and fiber content help control weight. Excess weight increases your risk of high blood sugar and diabetes. (14)
May Decrease Inflammation Inflammation caused by oxidative stress is at the root of many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Studies have shown that polyphenols like ellagitannins found in walnuts are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. (15) ALA omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and the amino acid arginine in tree nuts and walnuts may also decrease inflammation (16). Studies also indicate that the fatty acids found in walnuts may also help with inflammatory health issues like asthma, arthritis, and eczema (17). In addition, walnut polyphenols had the best efficacy among the nuts tested and also the highest lipoprotein-bound antioxidant activity. The researchers concluded that "Nuts are high in polyphenol antioxidants which by binding to lipoproteins would inhibit oxidative processes that lead to atherosclerosis in vivo. In human supplementation studies, nuts have been shown to improve the lipid profile, increase endothelial function and reduce inflammation, all without causing weight gain." (18)
Promotes Healthy Gut Studies suggest that if your gut is rich in good bacteria and other microbes, you’re more likely to have good overall health. Eating walnuts have prebiotic properties and may be one way to support the health of your gastrointestinal microbiota. (19) In another study with almost 200 healthy adults, the participants ate 1.5 ounces of walnuts every day for eight weeks, they had an increase in beneficial, probiotic bacteria, compared to a period of not eating walnuts. (20)
Help Lower Blood Pressure High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Some studies suggest that eating walnuts may help lower blood pressure, including in people with high blood pressure and in healthy people when under stress. Among other diets, the four-year PREDIMED study in about 7,500 adults at high risk of heart disease tested a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 1 ounce (28 grams) of mixed nuts daily, of which half were walnuts. At the end of the study, people on the nut-enriched Mediterranean diet had a 0.65 mmHg greater decrease in diastolic blood pressure than people on a similar heart-healthy control diet who weren’t given nuts. (21) This suggests that nuts may improve the blood pressure benefits of a heart-healthy diet.
Healthy Aging As you age, good physical functioning is essential for maintaining your mobility and independence. One thing that may help maintain your physical abilities is healthy eating habits. In an observational study over 18 years in more than 50,000 older women, scientists found that those with the healthiest diets had a 13% lower risk of physical impairment. Walnuts were one of the foods that made the strongest contribution to a healthy diet. (22) Though high in calories, walnuts are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats and plant compounds that can help provide the nutrients you need at an older age. (23) One study also found that consuming high-antioxidant foods like walnuts "can decrease the enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress that occurs in aging," "increase health span," and also "enhance cognitive and motor function in aging." (24)
Bone Health Walnuts are good source of the mineral copper, magnesium, and manganese. Studies have shown that these nutrients play an important role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin, the absorption of calcium, and the repair of connective tissues. They help support proper bone formation, fight against joint dysfunction, and may even decrease the risk of osteoporosis, which is associated with sever copper deficiency. Walnuts also contain the essential Omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. A study suggests that alpha-linolenic acid and its compounds can help support stronger and healthier bones. Also, Omega-3 fatty acids are known to decrease inflammation, and this helps keep bones stronger for a longer period. (25)
Good for Pregnancy Walnuts contain healthy vitamin B-Complex groups like folates, riboflavin, and thiamin. These are important vitamins that help provide the essential nutrients needed during pregnancy. (26)
Skin Care Walnuts are a source of vitamin E, which maintains and protects your skin against harmful free radicals. Walnuts also contain copper to help boost collagen production and melatonin for better sleep patterns. Plus, walnuts are packed with B-vitamins, which are linked to reducing stress and managing mood. These factors all help decrease wrinkles and can indirectly benefit your skin. (27)
Hair Care Some studies suggest that walnuts can keep your hair healthy and glowing. This is because they’re a reliable source of omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, protein, and magnesium. All these nutrients are known to help maintain and even strengthen your hair. (28)
In 2016, the United States FDA approved this statement: "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” The American Heart Association also approved walnuts for the Heart Check certification.