To say that walnuts are nutritious food is a bit of an understatement. Walnuts provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals and that’s just the beginning of how they may support your health.
In fact, there’s so much interest in this one nut that for the past 50 years, scientists and industry experts have gathered annually at the University of California, Davis, for a walnut conference discussing the latest walnut health research.
The most common variety of walnut is the English walnut, which is also the most studied type.
Here are 7 health benefits of walnuts.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Walnuts have higher antioxidant activity than any other common nut. This activity comes from vitamin E, melatonin and plant compounds called polyphenols, which are particularly high in the papery skin of walnuts.
A preliminary, small study in healthy adults showed that eating a walnut-rich meal prevented oxidative damage of “bad” LDL cholesterol after eating, whereas a refined-fat meal didn’t. That’s beneficial because oxidized LDL is prone to build up in your arteries, causing atherosclerosis.
2. Super Plant Source of Omega-3s
Walnuts are significantly higher in omega-3 fat than any other nut, providing 2.5 grams per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. Omega-3 fat from plants, including walnuts, is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It’s an essential fat, meaning you have to get it from your diet.
Observational studies have shown that each gram of ALA you eat per day lowers your risk of dying from heart disease by 10%.
3. May Decrease Inflammation
Inflammation is at the root of many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, and can be caused by oxidative stress.
The polyphenols in walnuts can help fight this oxidative stress and inflammation. A subgroup of polyphenols called ellagitannins may be especially involved.
Beneficial bacteria in your gut convert ellagitannins to compounds called urolithins, which have been found to protect against inflammation.
4. May Reduce Risk of Some Cancers
Test-tube, animal and human observational studies suggest that eating walnuts may reduce your risk of certain cancers, including breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. Walnuts are rich in the polyphenol ellagitannins. Certain gut microbes can convert these to compounds called urolithins.
Urolithins can have anti-inflammatory properties in your gut, which may be one way that eating walnuts helps protect against colorectal cancer. Urolithins’ anti-inflammatory actions could also help.
5. Supports Weight Control
Walnuts are calorie dense, but studies suggest that the energy absorbed from them is 21% lower than would be expected based on their nutrients. What’s more, eating walnuts may even help control your appetite.
Additionally, after five days of consuming the walnut smoothies, brain scans showed that the participants had increased activation in a region of the brain that helped them resist highly tempting food cues, such as cake and French fries.
6. May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes and Lower Your Risk
Observational studies suggest that one reason walnuts are linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes is that they help control weight. Excess weight increases your risk of high blood sugar and diabetes.
Eating walnuts may help control blood sugar by mechanisms beyond their influence on weight control.
7. Supports 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.
Though high in calories, walnuts are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats and plant compounds that may help support good physical functioning as you age.
Culled from Healthline
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