10 Health Benefits of Walnuts: Top Reasons to Eat the Healthiest “Nut”
The health benefits of walnuts are impressive. And more are being discovered. In fact, scientists and other experts in the industry have gathered annually to discuss the latest in walnut health research at the University of California.
Did you know that walnuts aren’t actually nuts? Walnuts are the seeds of drupes (a type of fruit with a seed inside), and therefore not true nuts. Walnuts are considered culinary nuts, and they still hold many of the same benefits as other nuts, maybe even more.
In fact, some scientists say they’re “the healthiest nut” because they have the highest level of antioxidants, compared to other nuts. They also have the best anti-inflammatory properties.
In this article:
- Walnuts Promote a Healthy Gut
- Walnuts Support Good Brain Function
- Walnuts Promote Healthy Aging
- Walnuts Support a Healthy Heart
- Walnuts May Help Lower Blood Pressure
- Walnuts Are a Rich Source of Antioxidants and Omega-3s
- Walnuts May Decrease Inflammation
- Walnuts Support Male Reproductive Health
- Walnuts May Reduce the Risk of Some Cancers
- Walnuts Support Weight Control
- How to Eat Walnuts? Plus, Healthy Walnut Recipes
- Stock Up on Walnuts for Your Food Storage!
- How To Store Raw Walnuts
- Make Walnuts Part of Your Regular Routine
10 Reasons to Eat Walnuts Regularly
Walnuts have a wealth of nutrients, like omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and magnesium, which contribute to their health benefits:
1. Walnuts Promote a Healthy Gut
Walnuts nourish the good bacteria in your gut. Having a healthy gut reduces your risk for disease.
Researchers found that adults who ate 1.5 oz of walnuts daily for 8 weeks had significantly increased beneficial bacteria in the gut.1
2. Walnuts Support Good Brain Function
Walnuts are known to contain many nutrients and micronutrients associated with improved motor and cognitive functions as well as better memory. These nutrients may also help in reducing inflammation and damage to the brain.2
Several studies suggest that walnuts are good for your brain and memory. One study found that walnuts significantly improved learning skills, memory, and anxiety in mice when studying Alzheimer’s disease.3
3. Walnuts Promote Healthy Aging
Walnuts are packed with healthy nutrients that improve your brain and help you age well.4
An observational study of over 50,000 older women showed that those with the healthiest diets had a 13% lower risk of health issues, and walnuts were among the foods that made the strongest contribution to a healthy diet. 5
4. Walnuts Support a Healthy Heart
While high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are shown to increase one’s risk for heart disease, walnuts have consistently been shown to decrease both in the body.6
A study found that diets containing a high amount of walnuts lowered cholesterol levels as opposed to reduced-calorie diets.7 Other studies promote walnuts in heart-healthy diets for the wealth of polyunsaturated fats.8
5. Walnuts May Help Lower Blood Pressure
The same study that found walnuts to lower cholesterol levels also found diets rich in walnuts to lower systolic blood pressure.7
Similarly, another study found that adults who partook of a nut-rich diet had a decrease in diastolic blood pressure as opposed to adults who were not given nuts and had a lesser decrease.9
6. Walnuts Are a Rich Source of Antioxidants and Omega-3s
Walnuts have significantly more healthy omega-3s and antioxidant activity than any other nut. This comes from the slightly papery skin of walnuts which contains melatonin, polyphenols, and vitamin E. 10 11
Omega-3 is an essential fat, and when it comes from plants, it’s called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). A single serving of walnuts meets the adequate daily intake of ALA, according to the Institute of Medicine.12 Studies have shown that daily intake of ALA lowers the risk of dying from heart disease by 10%.13
7. Walnuts May Decrease Inflammation
All nuts have anti-inflammatory properties, but walnuts are considered to be more effective than other nuts.
The nutrients in walnuts, such as arginine, ALA Omega-3 fat, ellagic acid, and magnesium all boast anti-inflammatory properties.14 These nutrients work together to reduce the inflammation oxidative stress causes.
8. Walnuts Support Male Reproductive Health
Eating walnuts may help support sperm health and male fertility.
A study on fertility in animals suggested that eating walnuts protected the sperm in males by lowering oxidative damage in the membranes.15 When this was studied in humans, the men that included walnuts in their diet had improved mobility, sperm shape, and vitality when compared to men not eating the nuts.16
9. Walnuts May Reduce the Risk of Some Cancers
Due to the many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients found in walnuts, the scientific community has discovered that walnuts may reduce the risk of some cancers, including breast, colorectal, and prostate.
The antioxidant nutrients in walnuts lower the risk of chronic oxidative stress, while the anti-inflammatory nutrients in walnuts lower the risk of chronic inflammation. When combined, the two highest proponents of cancer development have significantly lower occurrences. 17 18 19
10. Walnuts Support Weight Control
Multiple studies have concluded that nut consumption helps with better weight management and lower body fat.20 Additionally, multiple studies partially funded by the California Walnut Commission have established that walnuts specifically help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight.21
Besides all the other nutrients, walnuts contain fiber and protein, both of which help you feel full longer and can help curb your appetite. 22
A study had the individuals drink smoothies made with walnuts each day for five days. Not only did the walnuts decrease the participants’ appetite and hunger, but brain scans showed heightened activity in an area of the brain that helps resist tempting unhealthy foods.23
How to Eat Walnuts? Plus, Healthy Walnut Recipes
Walnuts give you the most benefits when consumed raw.
- As a healthy snack
- Mixed with other nuts
- Added to granola
- Added to salads
- Use them in baked goods
- Make sauces or dressings with them
- Top your meals with them to add a nice crunch
- Add them to smoothies, for the protein and health benefits
Gain the health benefits of walnuts with these walnut recipes:
- “Tuna” Walnut Pate — an excellent meat-free sandwich filling or cracker dip.
- Waldorf Salad — a simple but satisfying and crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for dinner or a potluck
- Banana Nut Bread — this recipe is gluten-free and sugar-free and wonderfully delicious
Stock Up on Walnuts for Your Food Storage!
You can buy the freshest raw walnuts from sunny California for an amazing price during our Annual Group Buy.
Get enough to last you the year and store them properly so you maintain their health benefits and truly delicious taste.
[Related: 43 Healthy Food Storage Staples]
How To Store Raw Walnuts
You can store raw walnuts and take them out as you need them. Place them in airtight containers and store them in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.
When exposed to warm temperatures for a while, raw walnuts can go rancid. (You can tell they’re bad if they’re rubbery or shriveled, and if they taste bitter.) So, storing in the refrigerator or freezer is best for long-term storage. Refrigerate them in tightly sealed bags or jars for up to a year. Or freeze them for up to 2 years.
Make Walnuts Part of Your Regular Routine
Walnuts are certainly a better option than most low calorie snacks or vending machine items. Take a few portioned bags of walnuts with you to work to eat as a snack when you are feeling tempted to head to the vending machine for a candy bar.
Robyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.S
- Altenhofer, Julia et al. (2018 Feb). A Walnut-Enriched Diet Affects Gut Microbiome in Healthy Caucasian Subjects: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(2): 244.
- Miller, Marshall G. Poulose, Shibu M. Shukitt-Hale, Barbara. (2014 Apr). Role of walnuts in maintaining brain health with age. The Journal of Nutrition. 2014;144(4):561S-566S.
- Chauhan, Abha. Chauhan, Ved. Essa, Musthafa M. Kaur, Kulbir. Lee, Moon. Muthaiyah, Balu. (2014 Oct 10). Dietary Supplementation of Walnuts Improves Memory Deficits and Learning Skills in Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2014;42(4):1397-1405.
- Bitok, Edward et al. (2017 Aug). Favourable nutrient intake and displacement with long-term walnut supplementation among elderly: results of a randomised trial. British Journal of Nutrition. 2017;118(3):201-209.
- Chiuve, Stephanie E. Grodstein, Francine. Hagan,Kaitlin A. Katz, Jeffrey N. Stampfer, Meir J. (2016 Jul). Greater Adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index Is Associated with Lower Incidence of Physical Function Impairment in the Nurses' Health Study. The Journal of Nutrition. 2016;146(7):1341-1347.
- Altenhofer, Julia et al. (2017 Oct). A Walnut-Enriched Diet Reduces Lipids in Healthy Caucasian Subjects, Independent of Recommended Macronutrient Replacement and Time Point of Consumption: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2017;9(10):1097.
- Barkai, Hava-Shoshana. Flatt, Shirley W. Heath, Dennis D. Pakiz, Bilge. Rock, Cheryl L. (2017 Dec 4). Walnut consumption in a weight reduction intervention: effects on body weight, biological measures, blood pressure and satiety. Nutrition Journal. 2017;16(76).
- Fulgoni III, Victor L. Nicklas, Theresa A. O’Neil, Carol E. (2015 Jun 28). Tree Nut consumption is associated with better adiposity measures and cardiovascular and metabolic syndrome health risk factors in U.S. Adults: NHANES 2005–2010. Nutrition Journal. 2015;14(64).
- Arós, Fernando et al. (2013 Sep 19). Effect of the Mediterranean diet on blood pressure in the PREDIMED trial: results from a randomized controlled trial. BMC Medicine. 2013;11(27).
- Gaban-Chong, Natasha. Haddad, Ella H. Oda, Keiji. Sabaté, Joan. (2014 Jan 14). Effect of a walnut meal on postprandial oxidative stress and antioxidants in healthy individuals. Nutrition Journal. 2014;13(4).
- Hai Liu, Rui. Halim, Linna. Yan, Jun. (2009). Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common edible nut seeds. LWT-Food Science and Technology. 2009;42(1):1-8.
- Balk, Ethan M. Lichtenstein, Alice H. (2017 Aug). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Summary of the 2016 Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality Evidence Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):865.
- Campos, Hannia et al. (2012 Dec). α-Linolenic acid and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;96(6):1262-73.
- Clifton, Peter M. Keogh, Jennifer B. Kim, Yoona. (2017 Nov 22). Benefits of Nut Consumption on Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Multiple Potential Mechanisms of Actions. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1271.
- Coffua, Lauren S. Martin0DeLeon, Patricia A. (2017 Feb 16). Effectiveness of a walnut-enriched diet on murine sperm: involvement of reduced peroxidative damage. Heliyon. 2017;3(2):250.
- Carpenter, Catherine L et al. (2012 Oct 1). Walnuts Improve Semen Quality in Men Consuming a Western-Style Diet: Randomized Control Dietary Intervention Trial. Biology of Reproduction. 2012;87(4):101.
- Arreola-Cruz, Alejandro et al. (2015 Jul 10). The protective effect of peanut, walnut, and almond consumption on the development of breast cancer. Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation. 2015;80(2):89-92.
- Ghaffari, S Mahmood. (2017 Dec 1). Antioxidant and Anticancer Activities of Walnut (Juglans regia L.) Protein Hydrolysates Using Different Proteases. Plant Foods Human Nutrition. 2017;71(4):402–409.
- Chen, Yanfei et al. (2016 Aug). Effects of Walnut Consumption on Colon Carcinogenesis and Microbial Community Structure. Cancer Prevention Research. 2016;9(8):692-703.
- Hu, Frank B. Jackson, Chandra L. (2014 Jun 4). Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014;100(1):408-411.
- Jin, Yalei. Li, Hang. Li, Xia. Lu, Jinping. Yuan, Sheng. (2018 Jun 22). Nut consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and overweight/obesity: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized trials. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2018;15(46).
- Beyl, Robbie A et al. (2019 Oct). Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. The Journal of Nutrition. 2019;149(10):1742-1748.
- Farr, Olivia M. Mantzoros, Christos S. Oussaada, Sabrina M. Tuccinardi, Dario. Upadhyay, Jagriti. (2018 Jan). Walnut consumption increases activation of the insula to highly desirable food cues: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over fMRI study. Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism. 2018;20(1):173-177.
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