Once named "Jupiter's royal acorn by the Romans, today, walnuts are often referred to as the superfood for the brain. Their brain-like shape and highly nutritious content benefits brain health and offer many other health benefits.
Besides being rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and essential fats, here are 6 reasons you need to eat more walnuts. Find out how much to eat daily, how to enjoy them, and safely store them.
Walnuts are made up of 65% fat and about 15% of protein.
A 1-ounce (30-gram) serving — about 14 halves — provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 185
- Water: 4%
- Protein: 4.3 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Sugar: 0.7 grams
- Fiber: 1.9 grams
- Fat: 18.5 grams
Walnuts contain essential minerals and vitamins, including copper, folic acid, phosphorous, manganese, and Vitamins B6 and E. All playing their role for the body to perform optimally.
Walnuts are rich in omega-6 (linoleic acid) and contain a significant amount of omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) fatty acids - more than most nuts. ALA is beneficial for heart health and helps reduce inflammation and improve the composition of blood fats.
6 reason to eat more walnuts
anti-inflammatory & high in antioxidants------
Walnuts are one of the foods with the highest polyphenols (plant compounds packed with antioxidants), warranting more of our attention. The primary polyphenol in walnuts is pedunculagin, an ellagitannin which contain excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bioactivity.
Several studies have determined the potential role of ellagitannins against disease-causing inflammation and fighting oxidative stress that leads to cancer, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Walnuts also contain other potent antioxidants such as phytosterols, gamma-tocopherol, carotenoids, polyphenolics, ellagic acid, and melatonin which benefit cancer suppression and reduce the risk for heart diseases.
reduce bad cholesterol and heart disease risk------
The beneficial fatty acids and antioxidant content in walnuts have been attributed in many studies as a factor for:
- Lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Decreasing the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD).
- Reducing inflammation that can cause cardiovascular disease (CVD).
- Improving blood vessel function, decreasing coronary artery disease (CAD) risk.
An article published in The Journal of Nutrition also identified that walnuts can improve the lining of your heart and blood vessels (the endothelium) and decrease inflammatory markers and oxidative stress.
promotes gut health------
Walnuts are rich in fiber that acts as a prebiotic to feed the good gut bacteria in your gut. And when gut bacteria are fed, they increase to balance out harmful bacteria in the stomach, promoting an overall healthy gut and balance.
One study found that adults who ate walnuts every day for eight weeks increased the number of good gut bacteria more than those who didn't.
decrease hunger and appetite------
Walnuts are a fantastic plant-based protein source and are ideal for a snack or adding more protein to meals. Protein and fatty acids in walnuts are known to fill and reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Another randomized study found that walnut consumption decreased feelings of hunger and appetite and increased activation of the right insula to highly desirable food cues - leading to beneficial metabolic effects.
improve brain health------
Another study found that walnuts directly affected the working memory and cognitive performance of elderly subjects at high cardiovascular risk.
A study of 64 young adults found that walnuts can also improve comprehension. According to The Journal of Nutrition, walnuts can reduce inflammation in the brain cells, help you form new brain cells, and improve memory.
can imrove sperm vitality------
A clinical trial found that males who ate about two servings of a nut mixture (50% walnuts, 25% almonds, and 25% hazelnuts) daily experienced an increase in sexual desire and orgasmic function.
The quality of semen, including sperm vitality, motility, and morphology, in another study of 117 participants also improved drastically compared to participants who didn't include nuts in their diet.
how many walnuts should you eat per day?
Nuts, including walnuts, are generally high in fats and calories. Although these are essential for the body, too much may cause side effects and weight gain.
There is no correct number of how many walnuts to consume, but health experts recommend anything between 7-10 per day should be okay. A 30-gram serving contains around 183 calories, a bit higher than an average-sized healthy snack.
How much you eat will also depend on its effects on your body; everyone will process it differently.
Too many walnuts can lead to:
- Swelling and rashes
- Weight gain
ways to enjoy walnuts
One of the best ways to enjoy walnuts is by soaking them overnight in a cup of water and then consuming them in the morning.
Soaked walnuts help to reduce harmful cholesterol levels even more, are easier to digest, and make it easier for the body to absorb nutrients.
Ways to enjoy walnuts:
- Top your favorite salads with walnuts for a boost of protein and healthy fats.
- Add walnuts to homemade granola, mixed with seeds, dried fruit, and rolled oats.
- Make Muhumarra - a spicy dip made of walnuts, red bell peppers, pomegranate molasses, and breadcrumbs. Here is a delicious recipe!
- Make a pesto sauce using walnuts for pasta.
- Top yogurt with chopped walnuts and fruit.
- In your favorite baked goods and treats like brownies and carrot cake.
To reap the heart health benefits, go with unsalted walnuts, raw and dry-roasted walnuts.
how to store walnuts
Walnuts should be stored correctly as they are high in oil and can get rancid if exposed to warm temperatures for an extended period. When they are rancid, they will taste bitter.
Store them (with or without their shells) in an airtight container in a cool, dry place and away from strong-smelling foods to not absorb odors.
You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or freeze them for up to a year.
If your walnuts are rubbery or shriveled, that means they're spoiled, and you should rather not eat them.