Walnuts are the edible nuts of the walnut tree. Their botanical name is Juglans Regia. The man has eaten walnuts since 7000 B.C. and finds a place in many cakes and desert.
The edible kernel is enclosed in a hard-inedible shell. People consider walnuts as brain food. Though there is a physical resemblance to the brain, the walnut does not make a person intelligent.
But, they are rich in nutrients and help augment brain function. They taste delicious and nutty. More than two-third of the total walnuts grown in the US is got from California. China is the biggest producer of walnuts in the world, and the US is second.
Walnut Nutrition Content
Each half-cup (60 grams) of dried walnut has 392 calories. The glycaemic index is low. Here is the breakdown of the nutrition content:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 226% of daily need.
- Manganese: 100%
- Biotin: 39%
- Copper: 107%
- Molybdenum: 40%
In addition, the half-cup of walnuts contains 225-300 milligrams of phosphorus. It also has 8-53 milligrams of calcium and 113-167 milligrams of magnesium. The fibre content is 4 grams. Other minerals found include selenium, sodium, iron, zinc, and potassium.
The amount of Phytosterols found in walnut is 40 mg in 60 gm. We also see plenty of vitamins such as riboflavin, Thiamine, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, folate, Vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. It also has folate, Vitamin B6, and niacin. The carotenoids include lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.
Walnut Health Benefits
Many of the bio-active compounds found in walnut help fight cancer on various fronts. These include Omega-3 fatty acids, Phytosterols, Ellagic acid, Gamma tocopherol, polyphenols. Eating walnuts lowers the risk of cancer of the colon, prostate, breast, kidneys, and others. We find a few phytonutrients are found such as quinone juglone only in walnut. Other rare phytonutrients are flavonol morin and tellimagrandin. They show the ability to control the growth of cancer cells.
Keeps the brain healthy
Eating walnuts helps improve brain health and function. It helps the person overcome depression and age-related diseases. Most of the studies are yet to be proven in humans though the results stand proven in animals. Researchers gave mice with Alzheimer’s walnuts for 10 months. The mice showed significant improvement in the learning skills and memory. Elderly rats that ate walnuts for eight weeks reversed age-related impairments in the brain function. The neuroprotective compounds such as melatonin, antioxidants, Vitamin E, Omega-3 fats, and folate improves the brain health. It also provides an increase in the interferential reasoning in young adults.
Good for the heart
Walnut is good for those who have increased risk factors for heart disease or already have heart disease. The L-arginine offers vascular benefit. Walnuts contain alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) that helps prevent the formation of pathological blood clots. The ALA is a plant-based Omega-3 fat. Eating walnuts help healthy cholesterol levels by raising the level of ALA in the blood. You only need eat four walnuts a day.
The risk of a fatal heart attack is lessened. We see a 50% risk reduction in sudden cardiac death occurrence. The vasomotor tone shows improved endothelial cell function and decreased aortic endothelin. The blood quality shows significant improvement due to the decreased LDL cholesterol and increased gamma-tocopherol. There are increased omega-3 fats and the blood shows decreased rate of maximum platelet aggregation.
Better reproductive health in men
This property of the walnut is relatively unknown or not discussed much. People who followed a western-style diet and added half-a-cup of walnut daily had much better sperm quality. Everything including the morphology, motility, and vitality improved.
Helps you lose weight
Eating walnuts helps increase the feeling of satiety when you have not eaten much. This feeling develops within 3-4 days of starting out to include walnuts in your diet. This reduces the amount of food one eats. Thus, the person will begin to lose weight.
Improves the metabolism
The presence of health-giving vitamins and minerals, ALA and antioxidants. You have better blood flow and decreased stress making you feel relaxed and more satisfied. This makes your metabolism perk up and begin to feel more energetic.
Augments bone health
One observes the anti-inflammatory aspect of walnuts. This may help enhance the bone health. An indication of better bone stability is decrease in the amounts of N-telopeptides (type1 collagen). This also indicates lesser mineral loss in the bone. Eating the walnuts on a regular basis helps to achieve this. So, this is one way to keep the bones healthy.
The metabolic parameters in people with diabetes type-2 improved with the intake of walnuts. This is due to the good dietary fat present in the walnuts. The result was significant in overweight adults who ate one quarter cup of walnuts daily for a month. The fasting blood sugar levels decreased significantly.
Has anti-inflammatory properties
Walnut shows anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of phytochemicals and polyphenolic compounds. The ALA plays a role in controlling the inflammation. The Omega-3 fats, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins help the body fight inflammation.
The astringent properties of walnut oil make it ideal for use as a base oil for aromatherapy and massage therapy. It makes the skin supple and removes wrinkles. Absorption of the essential nutrients through the skin is more than if we eat it. This is why one must have a walnut oil massage for better benefit.
Boosts the mood
The absence of essential fatty acids (EFA) will cause the person, both the child and the adult, to throw tantrums and become hyperactive. Walnuts help calm the irritability that arises and makes the person calm.
Side effects & Conclusion
Many people remove the outer layer of the walnut since it has a slightly bitter taste. But, this is rich in phenol, and so you should eat it together with the nut. People with herpes should avoid eating walnuts as the elevated levels of L-arginine will exhaust the compound amino acid lysine. This will cause recurrence of herpes symptoms.