Walnuts are a favorite choice of nut for their rich, buttery flavor profile. Their nutrient profile, however, is what makes them a true hit. Walnuts offer an abundance of health and wellness benefits thanks to a great mix of healthy fats, protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the advantages of eating these popular tree nuts.
Deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Walnuts deliver omega-3s in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These essential fats are used to generate cell membranes and regulate “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain. Eating walnuts supports optimal brain functioning and reduces mood disorder.
The heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in walnuts decreases low density lipoproteins, which are the harmful cholesterol. As a result, those who regularly eat walnuts experience lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
Walnuts contain antioxidant polyphenols and other phytochemicals that fight oxidative stress that prematurely damages DNA and stimulates inflammation.
High levels of bad cholesterol and poor blood vessel function have been tied to higher incidence of Type 2 diabetes. By improving cardiovascular indicators, regular consumption of walnuts may reduce one's risk of diabetes. Furthermore, the beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and ALA found in walnuts may also alleviate insulin resistance.
It's no coincidence that the globular shape of the walnut resembles the human brain. This nut is often referred to as “brain food" because it can improve memory retention and prevent cognitive decline.
Deficiencies in the mineral copper are associated with higher incidence of osteoporosis. Walnuts are an excellent source of copper as well as manganese and magnesium. These minerals help prevent osteoporosis and support the formation of new bone.
The nutrient profile of walnuts provides filling fiber that supports the digestive system and improves gut health. In addition, walnuts stimulate the growth of good bacteria that contribute to a stronger, healthier microbiome.
Walnuts contain the antioxidant gamma tocopherol as well as phenolic compounds like ellagic and gallic acid that are the body's first line of defense against free radical damage. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of walnuts have been shown to prevent cancerous growth and reverse DNA damage.
Walnuts are high in fiber which helps you feel satiated for longer after eating. This benefit makes walnuts important for weight control. Just be sure to consume appropriate portion sizes— nuts are quite calorie-dense.
The various nutrients found in walnuts, like manganese, copper, iron, selenium, and zinc are vital to the body's metabolic processes. The body uses these nutrients for digestion, to break down carbohydrates, and to stimulate muscle and tissue growth.
Walnuts pack the most nutrients when raw, so avoid roasting them if possible. Also, be sure to eat the outermost skin of the nut, which is responsible for most of its health and wellness benefits.Walnuts can be enjoyed as snacks— by themselves or tossed in with other nuts and dried fruit in granola or trail mix. They also are great served as a topping for salad or used in baked goods. You might also ground or chop them for use in smoothies, dressings, or sauces.
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