Nuts are one of the best ways to add a bit of crunch and flavour to your everyday recipes. Apart from being nutritious, they carry a lot of bioactive compounds that aid in healing and health building. And walnuts are no different. Most of us are well aware of the benefits of walnuts for our brain and heart. But these nuts have way more to provide for your health.

Walnuts are a good source of fibre, antioxidants and unsaturated fats. They also contain ample calcium and potassium. All these nutrients make walnuts good for gut health, fertility and weight loss. Walnuts also aid weight loss and fight ageing signs.

Walnuts can be eaten as it is, roasted, made into pickles or walnut butter. They are also popular in brownie recipes, cakes, pie, ice-cream toppings, and even as a garnish in certain dishes.  Another way of having walnuts is by making walnut milk, which can be used as a creamy base for smoothies.

It is believed that the walnut tree dates as far back as 700 B.C. In the 4th century AD, the ancient Romans introduced the walnut to many European countries where it has been grown ever since. The walnut that we are commercially used to today is native to India and parts around the Caspian Sea. Called the English walnut, it was named after the English traders who carried it around the world for trade. The black walnut is another variety that is specific to North America. Walnuts are now grown in China, Iran, and within the United States in California and Arizona.

Did you know?

Unlike other nuts walnuts are not really nuts but round, single-seeded drupes obtained from the walnut tree. The walnuts we know are actually obtained from separating the two halves of the seeds of walnut fruit.

Some basic facts about Walnuts:

  • Botanical Name: Juglans Regia (English Walnut)
  • Family: Juglandaceae.
  • Common Name: Walnut, Akhrot
  • Parts Used: The kernel of the walnut is what is mostly used. However, the shell and the leaves are also said to have health benefits.
  • Native Region and Geographical Distribution: Although walnuts were once native to India and parts of North America, they are now grown commercially in China, Iran, Turkey, Mexico, Ukraine, Chile, and the United States. China is the largest producer of walnuts in the world. In India, walnuts are produced in the northern and north-eastern states of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh. Jammu & Kashmir is the largest producer of walnuts in India.
  • Interesting Fact: Walnuts were considered as a food for the gods during the early Roman times, and were named after Jupiter – hence the scientific name Juglans regia.
  1. Walnuts nutrition facts
  2. Walnuts health benefits
  3. Walnuts Side effects
  4. Takeaway

Walnuts are highly rich in antioxidants and vitamin E and contain also a good amount of polyunsaturated fats. They are made up of 65% fat and 15% protein and are low in carbs. Walnuts are also rich in fibre.

Like other nuts, most of the calories in walnuts come from their high-fat content. This makes them an energy-dense, high-calorie food. One-quarter cup of walnuts provides more than 100% of the daily recommended value of plant-based omega-3 fats, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin.

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, 100g of walnuts contain the following nutrient values:

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 6.28 g
Energy 500 kcal
Protein 8.28 g
Fats 35.71 g
Carbohydrate 47.59 g
Fibre 3.6 g
Sugars 32.14 g
Minerals  
Calcium 71 mg
Iron 1.29 mg
Potassium 232 mg
Sodium 446 mg
Fats/Fatty acids  
Saturated 3.571 g
Monounsaturated 5.357 g
Polyunsaturated 25 g

Walnuts have several benefits for your health and well being. But how exactly it helps you stay fit? You'll find out in this section:

  • For the brain: Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which makes it an excellent food for your brain. DHA and ALA help to improve brain structure and function, thereby improving memory and maintaining the diurnal cycle. It also helps to reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer’s and prevent seizures and epilepsy.
  • For weight loss: Walnuts are a rich source of fibre and assist in keeping you full for long making for a healthy snack. It also helps to improve the digestion and lipid metabolism of the body.
  • For the heart: Being a rich source of antioxidants, walnuts are good for your cardiac health. They help in reducing blood pressure cholesterol thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
  • As anti-ageing: its antioxidant content also makes it an anti-ageing food wherein it not only manage physical signs of ageing on skin and hair but also improve memory function with advancing age.
  • For diabetes: Walnuts may be helpful in the prevention of diabetes as reported by clinical studies.
  • Against cancer: Eating walnuts may help to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly that of the prostate or the rectum.
  • For fertility: Walnuts may help in improving sexual function in men by improving the quality and number of sperms.

Walnuts for brain health

Walnuts are a superfood for our brain. Research evidence suggests that the consumption of walnuts helps maintain brain health and keeps age-related neurodegeneration at bay. Let us have a look at the scientifically proven benefits of walnuts for your brain.

  • Walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, DHA and ALA which are important for maintaining brain cell structure and function. Also, they reduce oxidative stress in the brain, thereby improving cognitive and memory skills. (Read more: Home remedies to improve memory)
  • Polyphenols present in walnuts assist in keeping your memory function strong.
  • Melatonin is yet another compound present in walnuts that is important for maintaining diurnal cycles. This means consuming walnuts could help you in getting a good night's sleep. (Read more: Ways to overcome insomnia and sleep better)
  • Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases are the most common neurodegenerative disorders worldwide. According to research, these neurological disorders can be prevented by regular consumption of walnuts. Including walnuts in your diet can protect your brain from inflammation, free radical damage and hence age-related brain disorders.
  • Animal studies indicate that walnut consumption may interfere with some signalling pathways and reduce the risk of epilepsy and seizures.

(Read more: How to increase brain power)

Walnuts for weight loss

Despite being high in fat, walnuts can help you to reduce weight if consumed moderately. A handful of walnuts (approximately 12 to 14) has enough calories to promote satiety. This is due to the high content of protein and fibre in these nuts, which ultimately helps you to control your appetite. In a controlled study, 10 obese people were made to drink a smoothie made of 48 g of walnuts. After consuming the smoothie once a day for five days in a row, the appetite among the people decreased as compared to the people who consumed placebo drinks, which included the same amount of nutrients and calories.

(Read more: 7 common weight loss mistakes)

Walnuts contain polyunsaturated fats, which actually assist in reducing bad cholesterol levels in your body, a factor that may be contributing to those extra kilos.

Being a repository of antioxidants, walnuts help keep free radical damage under check, thereby improving metabolic functions and helping you shed weight quickly.

(Read more: Obesity treatment)

Walnuts for gut health

Walnuts are a good source of fibre, which means that it makes the perfect food for your gut. In fact, studies suggest that a fibre-rich diet does wonder for your gut health. They provide bulk to your food and help avoid constipation while also curbing your appetite.

Not only this but walnuts also improve the microbiota of your gut. In a controlled study, 194 healthy adults consumed 43 grams of walnuts every day. After eight weeks, it was concluded that consuming 43 g of walnuts every day enhances the production of healthy probiotic bacteria. These bacteria facilitate digestion and improve lipid metabolism in the body. 

(Read more: What is metabolism)

Another study revealed the increase in butyrate-producing bacteria with regular walnut consumption that nourishes the gut and promotes gut health.

(Read more: Foods to improve digestion) 

Walnuts for diabetes

Research evidence indicates the link between walnut consumption and a reduced risk of diabetes. This is because walnuts act against all the risk factors responsible for hyperglycemia and diabetes.

People who are obese are at risk of diabetes and high blood sugar. According to studies, nuts are rich in dietary fibre and protein. Moderate consumption of walnuts helps in maintaining cholesterol levels in the body along with your BMI. Together, these factors improve diet and help prevent diabetes.

(Read more: What to eat and what not to eat in diabetes)

Moreover, walnuts are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and phytosterols. This can help prevent or delay diabetes by their anti.oxidant and free radical scavenging activity. 

According to a recent study published in Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, prediabetic people who consume walnuts regularly are at a much lower risk of developing diabetes than people who don't.

(Read more: What is prediabetes)

Walnuts antioxidant properties

Walnuts have proven to be the richest source of antioxidants among the other commonly available nuts. A research published in the Food and Function journal states that walnuts are the best antioxidant foods you can add to your diet. This means it helps your body to combat any oxidative damage and keeps diseases at bay.

Walnuts for male fertility

Adding walnuts to the daily diet may help you to boost the production of sperms and semen, thereby increasing fertility in healthy men.

(Read more: How to increase sperm count)

In a controlled study including 117 healthy men, regular consumption of about 75 g of walnuts was found to be effective in improving sperm shape, mobility and vitality within 3 months.

Further studies indicate that this is due to the antioxidants present in walnuts that reduce oxidative damage which is otherwise a major factor responsible for male sexual problems.

Walnuts for blood pressure

Hypertension has become a common problem these days all thanks to the stress of the modern lifestyle and unhealthy dietary habits. It not only affects your everyday life but also increases the risk of heart diseases. Walnuts are a good source of nutrients and minerals, which make up an important part of a healthy diet. 

By making you eat less they ensure that you don't binge on unhealthy snacks.

Also, walnuts contain fibre and magnesium, which are proven to be helpful in managing elevated blood pressure.

According to a research study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, including walnuts in your diet may help the body to deal with stress. These nuts contain polyunsaturated fats, which influence blood pressure when you are resting as well as under stress conditions

However, if you are suffering from hypertension, make sure to ask your doctor before adding walnuts to your regular diet.

(Read more: Foods to reduce and control high blood pressure)

Walnuts anti-ageing benefits

Adding walnuts to your daily diet can help you maintain your physical ability and age gracefully. As we age, we require food with lower energy but higher nutrition. According to a research study, consumption of 43g of walnuts per day in older people results in a higher intake of plant-based protein, and lower intake of total carbohydrate, animal protein, and sodium.

Additionally, the nutrient absorption of the body declines as we age, but the intake of walnuts in old age induces favourable changes to the nutrient profile, helping you retain your health even in older age.

(Read more: Antiageing treatments and prevention)

Walnuts prevent colon and breast cancer

For a long time, it was believed that cancer is developed as a result of inherited genetic mutations, but in 1981 it was reported by Doll and Petro that cancer can also occur due to lifestyle and other environmental factors. Also, diet plays a major role in the occurrence or prevention of certain cancers.

Research suggests that walnuts have strong anti-cancer properties as it is enriched with certain biochemicals namely omega-3-fatty acids, β-sitosterol, tocopherols, and pedunculagin. Regular consumption of walnuts helps strengthen the immune system and prevents the formation of cancerous cells in the body.

Further studies indicate that regular consumption of walnuts prevents colorectal cancer by inducing positive changes in the microflora of the gut. While it reduces the risk of prostate cancer in older men by balancing the tocopherol levels, one of the biomarkers of prostate cancer.

(Read more: Diet for cancer patients)

Walnuts are loaded with health-building nutrients and have several health benefits. However, they may have some side effects too. Let's have a look at these side effects:

  • Walnuts may cause allergic reactions in some people. The severity of these reactions may vary from person to person. Some of the common symptoms of walnut allergy are itching in the tongue and mouth, hives, swelling of the throat, asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock.
  • Excessive consumption of walnuts may cause skin rashes and swelling in some people, especially in people who are sensitive to other nuts.
  • Walnuts are known to be an excellent source of dietary fibres. However, when consumed in excessive quantities, these fibres can result in diarrhea and other stomach problems.
  • Allergens present in walnuts such as histamine can worsen health conditions, especially in pregnant women. This may cause reactions like nausea and stomach pain.
  • Walnuts can be dangerous to people who are asthmatic, causing breathing problems, swelling of the tongue and throat.

Walnuts improve brain health and help prevent heart diseases and cancer. Walnuts are rich in fibres, fats such as omega-3 fatty acids and other minerals and nutrients. Moderate consumption of walnuts on a daily basis could definitely do wonders! However, some people may be allergic to walnuts. If you are allergic to other nuts then it is best to get an allergy test before consuming walnuts.


Medicines / Products that contain Walnut

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References

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  2. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 12156, Nuts, walnuts, glazed. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  3. Bi D et al. Phytochemistry, Bioactivity and Potential Impact on Health of Juglans: the Original Plant of Walnut. Nat Prod Commun. 2016 Jun;11(6):869-80. PMID: 27534138
  4. Sujatha Rajaram et al. The Walnuts and Healthy Aging Study (WAHA): Protocol for a Nutritional Intervention Trial with Walnuts on Brain Aging. Front Aging Neurosci. 2016; 8: 333. PMID: 28119602
  5. Yin TP et al. Tannins and Antioxidant Activities of the Walnut (Juglans regia) Pellicle. Nat Prod Commun. 2015 Dec;10(12):2141-4. PMID: 26882685
  6. W. Elaine Hardman. Walnuts Have Potential for Cancer Prevention and Treatment in Mice. J Nutr. 2014 Apr; 144(4): 555S–560S. PMID: 24500939
  7. Bamberger C et al. A Walnut-Enriched Diet Affects Gut Microbiome in Healthy Caucasian Subjects: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2018 Feb 22;10(2). pii: E244. doi: 10.3390/nu10020244. PMID: 29470389
  8. Hu ED et al. High fiber dietary and sodium butyrate attenuate experimental autoimmune hepatitis through regulation of immune regulatory cells and intestinal barrier. Cell Immunol. 2018 Jun;328:24-32. PMID: 29627063
  9. Jackson CL, Hu FB. Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100 Suppl 1:408S-11S. PMID: 24898229
  10. Kim Y, Keogh JB, Clifton PM. Benefits of Nut Consumption on Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Multiple Potential Mechanisms of Actions. Nutrients. 2017 Nov 22;9(11). pii: E1271. doi: 10.3390/nu9111271. PMID: 29165404
  11. Robbins WA et al. Walnuts improve semen quality in men consuming a Western-style diet: randomized control dietary intervention trial. Biol Reprod. 2012 Oct 25;87(4):101. PMID: 22895856
  12. Bitok E et al. Favourable nutrient intake and displacement with long-term walnut supplementation among elderly: results of a randomised trial. Br J Nutr. 2017 Aug;118(3):201-209. PMID: 28831957
  13. Stanford Health Care [Internet]. Stanford Medicine, Stanford University; Avoiding Asthma Triggers
  14. An Pan et al. [Walnut Consumption Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women. J Nutr. 2013 Apr; 143(4): 512–518. PMID: 23427333
  15. Nakanishi M et al. Effects of Walnut Consumption on Colon Carcinogenesis and Microbial Community Structure. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2016 Aug;9(8):692-703. PMID: 27215566
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