Walnuts Are The Top ‘Nut’ For The Health Conscious

Whole walnuts with some broken to expose the kernel.
Walnuts. Copyright: gospix / 123RF Stock Photo

♦ Walnuts are viewed as the healthiest of all nuts and they even have their own EFSA claim.

Walnuts should be eaten every day according to the latest nutrition research – 6g is good enough on a daily basis.

Incidentally they are not a true nut by biology standards but close enough for our purposes.

Of all the nuts, walnuts have one of the highest antioxidant levels when compared to others. Why is that good ? Antioxidants are thought to protect us from various diseases as they stop various free radical chain reactions which do us harm. In fact, the walnut may have twice the antioxidant content of other nuts most often eaten.

Nutrition

We often comment on news items that surround the value in nuts. Nuts are known to be healthy and nutritious, containing high-quality protein, plenty of vitamins and minerals. They have a high insoluble dietary fibre content too. It’s obvious they are gluten- and dairy free. Just eating a few nuts of whatever variety is good for maintaining heart health, reducing diabetes and potentially some forms of cancer. There is developing research in the areas of heart and cardiovascular protection (see article) and in reducing the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Walnuts (Juglans regia) have a large number of health benefits. They contain the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acid, namely alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). They also have a favourable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids too which is 1 to 4.2 in terms of content (Hayes et al., 2016). The nut also contains lots of phytochemicals such as antioxidants. These phenolic antioxidants protect against a number of disease states in common with other nuts but the information currently available relates to reducing heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, inflammation and cancer (Nakanishi et al., 2016; Yang & Suh, 2013).

Whilst nuts have high levels of dietary fibre, walnuts can boast  up to 6.4 per cent. 

One of the most important benefits which comes in part from the high dietary fibre content relates to protection against inflammation of the gut generally and reducing the risk of colon cancer in particular. One of the most interesting benefits relates to possible protection against inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease (Nakanishi et al., 2019).

If you are interested in minerals and vitamins then they are a good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, folate and iron. Walnuts are low in sodium too.  

Products

Ideal for snacking and cooking. Roasting nuts does reduce their antioxidant value but its reckoned there are still benefits to be had from cooked nuts because of all the other nutrients they pack into their wrinkled frame.

In food, they usually come as halves. They are used in a wide range of baked goods and confectionary. They are one of the critical ingredients in a Waldorf Salad. There is a liqueur called Nocino from Italy worth trying.

If you are interested in just walnuts, try those from Tree Of Life®  who specialise in high quality raw foods. Buy bags of walnut halves (125g). They also offer an organic form too (organic walnut halves (125g)), and broken nuts (broken walnuts) which are ready to eat. The company also offers light amber coloured types as halves in 150g and 250g bags.

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References

Hayes, D.; Angove, M.J.; Tucci, J.; Dennis, C. Walnuts (Juglans regia) (2016) Chemical Composition and Research in Human Health. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 56, pp. 1231–1241.

Nakanishi, M.; Chen, Y.; Qendro, V.; Miyamoto, S.; Weinstock, E.; Weinstock, G.M.; Rosenberg, D.W. (2016) Effects of Walnut Consumption on Colon Carcinogenesis and Microbial Community Structure. Cancer Prev. Res. (Phila) 9, pp. 692–703 (Article).

Nakanishi, M.; Matz, A.; Klemashevich, C.; Rosenberg, D.W. (2019) Dietary Walnut Supplementation Alters Mucosal Metabolite Profiles During DSS-Induced Colonic Ulceration. Nutrients11, 1118 (Article).

Yang, C.S.; Suh, N. (2013) Cancer prevention by different forms of tocopherols. Top. Curr. Chem. 329, pp. 21–33 (Article).

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