If you are looking for food which is full of healthy fats, good amount of fiber and a great source of plant based protein then, ladies and gentlemen, you should consume Walnuts. They are not only the good source of fiber, fats and proteins, they are also great source of many essential minerals. Just like almonds they are one of the best foods as snacks which provides many nutrients and health benefits to those who consume them.
I personally like walnuts so much that I often eat a bunch of walnuts first thing in the morning. I also add them to my protein smoothies which increases the nutrition value of the smoothie. I also like to carry some walnut in my pocket and eat them when I feel like eating chocolates. It helps me avoid the carving for the sugar containing chocolates which then leads to more of them. In this article let us see some of the benefits of walnuts and learn why you should eat more of these wonderful nut.
Brief History of Walnuts
Walnut is one of the oldest tree food known to mankind with some estimates saying that it has history of at least 7000 years. Let us see the brief history of Walnuts. Walnuts originated from Persia from where they spread to other parts of the world. Now China and USA are major producers of Walnut. In USA maximum quantity of walnut is produced in California.
Nutritional Content of Walnut
Almost 65% of walnut by weight is various types fats which is among the highest in plant based foods. Walnut are energy dense food. Our body needs healthy fats and walnuts can be major source of fat. They are also a good source of dietary fiber and protein. Hence you get all the three macro nutrients from walnit. Here is the nutrition details in Walnut for one ounce (around 28 g) of walnut.
Total Calories – 190
Macro nutrients in Walnut
Protein – 4.5 grams
Fat – 18 grams
Saturated – 1.5 grams
Polyunsaturated – 13 grams
Monounsaturated – 2.5 grams
Walnut has many beneficial minerals including –
Calcium – 28 mg
Potassium – 125 mg
Iron – 1 mg
Other minerals present in Walnut are copper, magnesium, manganese, Phosphorus and Molybdenum.
Walnut is also a great source of Omega 3 fatty acid. In face one ounce of walnut is sufficient to meet more that daily needs of you Omega 3 fatty acid needs.
Other fatty acid present in walnut include Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. There are several fatty acids which are present in this category by the ones present in Walnut are Linoleic which is 11.43 grams and Linolenic which is around 2.7 grams.
Among the Monounsaturated fats Oleic acid is present in 2.6 grams.
Amino acids play central roles both as building blocks of proteins and as intermediates in metabolism. The 20 amino acids that are found within proteins convey a vast array of chemical versatility. Walnut contains 18 different amino acids in various quantities.
Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied in the food. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids, those that we cannot make, results in degradation of the body’s proteins—muscle and so forth—to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use—the amino acids must be in the food every day.
Hence it is essential to consume foods which are rich in Amino acids. Walnuts can be a significant source of amino acids when consumed regularly. If you work out you need amino acids of cell and tissue repair and walnuts can help you.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
Eating around one fourth cup of walnuts daily has been found to be beneficial in following conditions.
Walnuts are useful in variety of heart conditions. Walnut improve the ability of the heart to respond to various stimuli and pressures. Walnut are great sources of if Omega 3 which is good for our heart health. They also reduce inflammation in the arteries and decrease the bad cholesterol LDL. They also reduce the risk of clotting which can lead to stroke.
They improve the function of blood vessels by cutting the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries. Usually Omega 3 supplements in the market are sourced from fish. However walanut contains plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This compund has anti-inflammatory properties and it may prevent the formation of pathological blood clots. Research shows that people who eat a diet high in ALA are less likely to have a fatal heart attack and have a nearly 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death
Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes can cause many health including such as heart disease, kidney disease and sometimes leading to blindness. Primary cause of type 2 diabetes is the spike up blood sugar levels due to bad eating. Over the years the stops responding to insulin to remove the sugar from the blood. This is called insulin resistance.
Walnut has good amount of fiber and fat which does not allow the blood sugar levels to rise too rapidly. Fats raise the blood sugar levels the slowest among the macro nutrients. Fiber is also good for keeping the blood sugar under control hence people with type 2 diabetes should consume walnut regularly.
Metabolic syndrome is not a disease but group of symptoms which include elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity and increase triglycerides level. Walnut helps improve metabolic syndrome symptoms such as reducing bad cholesterol, improving heart health and helping in reducing blood sugar levels and reducing extra fat. The potassium present in walnut helps reduce high blood pressure.
Anti Cancer Property
Many experiments have proved that the anti oxidants present in the Walnut helps in reducing the risk of breast and prostrate cancer. The anti oxidants present in the walnut when taken in large quantities helps in fighting with the tumor and cancer cells. However most studies have been done on rats and mice.
Improve Male Reproductive Health
Walnut consumption improve the sperm quality and keeps the arteries healthy. Consuming around 75 grams (a bit over one-half cup) of walnuts daily significantly improved sperm quality, including vitality, motility, and morphology
Helps avoid overeating
One of the curse of modern times is overeating. This is mainly relevant in developed countries where food is abundant. Especially the unhealthy processed foods. Consuming even 30 grams of walnut can help you in avoiding overeating. The fats and the dietary fiber in the walnut reduce the cravings and keeps hunger at bay for a long time. Fats take longer time to get digested. ence your will power to resist the foods will increase. Once you stop eating less unhealthy foods gradually your health will improve.
How to Eat Walnut
The best way to eat walnuts is to just have them raw along with Salads or even without salads. They are crunchy and tasty. Once you get used to them you will start preferring to eat them without mixing them in any other food. I personally like to eat my walnuts as a mid morning or mid after snack.
Another way to eat walnuts is to add them to smoothies. You can make smoothies by adding walnuts, banana, berries such as blue berry or strawberry along with some protein powder.
There are multiple options for salads also. For example walnut can be eaten with just sliced carrots as a simple salad. Other options could be to add walnuts to sliced tomatoes and onions along with little salt. You could also add some olives and olive oil.
Yet another option to eat walnut could be to add to guacamole with some olive oil and then consume it.
You can also roast walnut lightly and eat them as crunchy snacks. These roasted walnut can be mixed in olive oil and blended to create a tasty and healthy dip.
The skin of walnut should not be removed as they contain many healthy properties. In fact that up to 90 percent of the antioxidants in walnuts are found in the skin, making it one of the best parts to consume.
When Not To Have Walnuts
It is better not to have walnuts just after workouts. After workouts you needs fast absorbing Carbs and protein so that nutrients can be absorbed in the blood stream and the muscles tissues fast. Walnuts contain high amount of fat which get absorbed slowly. Hence it is not the ideal diet after the workouts. However it still remains a good food at other times of the day.
If you struggle with herpes, you may want to avoid or limit walnuts, as high levels of arginine can deplete the amino acid lysine, which can trigger herpes recurrences.