Walnuts are nuts obtained from the tree of the genus Juglans (Family Juglandaceae). Technically, a walnut is the seed of a drupaceous nut. It can be used in various forms, you can use it for nutmeat after it’s fully ripened or it can be processed for pickled walnuts while green.
Originating in the Mediterranean region and Central Asia, walnuts have long been a part of our diet and are gladly consumed not just as snacks but also as a delectable addition to salads, pastas, cereal, and baked goods.
Due to its high nutritional value and amazing health benefits, you might be tempted to buy loads of walnuts. But make sure to store them correctly as poor storage can lead to insects and fungal molds.
Curious about how these yummy nuts can boost your health?
Let’s find out!
Nutrition Value of Walnuts
Walnuts are loaded with omega-3 fats and have a higher amount of antioxidants than many other foods. Consuming walnuts has a good impact on brain health. Besides this, it helps in preventing cancer and heart disease.
Walnuts comprise of 65% fat and have around 15% of protein. They have low quantities of carbohydrates, most of which comprise of fiber.
Like other nuts, most of the calories (energy) in walnuts come from fat. They are high-calorie, energy-dense foods.
However, even if they’re calorie and fat laden, you don’t have to worry about embracing the risk of getting obese when replacing other foods with walnuts in your diet.
Walnuts and Reproductive Health
According to a study, eating walnuts can make you more fertile. Research conducted has pointed in the direction of walnuts aiding sperm health. A diet enriched in walnuts has the possibility of improving sperm quality by reducing lipid peroxidation, which is a process that damages sperm cells.
This cell damage process leads to damage of sperm membranes that are mainly made of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). A high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is found in walnuts, hence providing key nutrients which can aid in sperm function.
Researchers have observed significant improvements in sperm motility and morphology that were given a diet consisting of 19.6% calories from walnuts. Semen quality is determined by Sperm motility (movement) and morphology (form) and sperm quality predict male fertility.
The lead researcher, Patricia A. Martin-DeLeon, Ph.D. of the University of Delaware finds it fascinating that walnuts can have such a part in helping to improve sperm quality. However, the researcher emphasizes the fact that more research needs to be conducted to understand the exact and specific nutrients that lead to this development.
According to findings from a published randomized control trial, consuming 75 grams of walnuts daily can lead to improvement of sperm vitality, morphology, and motility in men who have walnuts in their diet as compared to those who didn’t have any.
This finding prompted Martin-DeLeon to conduct a research studying the link between sperm quality and walnuts. According to Dr. Robbins, this study conducted on mice can aid future studies aiming to understand the effect on humans.
For this, there is a need for extensive research as well as more diverse male populations.
Health Benefits Of Eating Walnuts
1. Champion Of Nuts
Nuts can never really be bad but among all the nuts, do you know which ones can be said to be more important? According to a research conducted by Dr. Vinson, it is none other than walnuts which are the champions of nuts!
In fact, walnuts can be said to rank better than Brazil nuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts. Now, that’s quite a list!
2. Antioxidant Polyphenols
If you thought walnuts are just for taste, you’re in for a surprise. They have a high amount of antioxidant polyphenols and antioxidant potency. Polyphenols have been given the name of “lifespan essentials.”
Their task is to prevent certain diseases from occurring within the body.
Antioxidant potency, on the other hand, is the ability to stop oxidation of bad cholesterol or LDL.
The quantity of antioxidant polyphenols and antioxidant potency was found to be higher in walnuts as compared to other nuts, during analysis. This further validates the significance of walnuts.
3. Potent Antioxidants
What are antioxidants? They are free radicals which can prevent cell changes leading to the development of diseases.
We have seen that walnuts have a higher amount of antioxidant polyphenols. This is not just it, though! Did you know that the antioxidants in walnuts have 15 times more power than vitamin E, which is itself known as a strong antioxidant?
4. Good For Heart
Nuts are thought to be loaded with fats. Yes, that bit is true. However, did you know these fats are actually good for your heart?
Nuts are packed with good nutrition, containing fiber, protein, vitamin E, folic acid, and magnesium. Nuts are high in fats but these are all unsaturated heart-healthy fats.
The real problem lies with bad fats like saturated and trans fats. You’ll be glad to know, though, that none of these comes from nuts.
5. May Lower Risk of Diabetes
Women eating nuts at least five times a week saw a 30% reduction in diabetes risk as compared to those women who never ate nuts.
While there’s an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, it’s comforting to know that nuts can be some sort of line of defense against it, that too a delicious one!
While the researchers are not confirmed whether it is magnesium, fiber, phytochemicals, or healthy fat in walnuts which contributes to this, the study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association does give nut-lovers something to rejoice about.
6. Weight Loss
This is another surprising benefit of walnuts that is hard to believe at first but is true! Walnuts can help you with weight loss. Food which is fulfilling, tasty as well as nutritious but doesn’t pack in more weight is every dieter’s dream!
Consuming small portions of nuts can help dieters lose weight because the fiber and protein in them help dieters feel full for longer.
Dieters also tend to stick to their dieting schedule longer if the diet includes nuts.
7. Improve Men’s Sexual Health
Walnuts help in improving men’s sexual health. If the physician of weight loss medicine, Dr. Nadolsky has an option to pick one food to boost men’s health, it might be the walnuts.
There have been some studies identifying the effect of walnuts on a group of men. After the 12-week period, it was found that the quality of sperms improved only in men’s group which had consumed walnuts. The walnut eaters whose sperms were the worst swimmers (when the study started) noticed the biggest improvement by the end of this study.
8. Helps In Sleeping
Do you have difficulty in sleeping? Then walnuts are among those foods which can tackle this problem for you.
These nuts comprise of tryptophan. This is an amino acid that aids in sleep and it helps in making and melatonin and serotonin (the hormone which sets your cycles of sleep and staying awake).
What’s more…walnuts come with their own melatonin. This helps you sleep faster!
9. Brain Power
It’s not a coincidence that walnuts have shaped like a brain. That’s because they have nutrients essential for the health of your brain!
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids. However, these are not the same as those found in fish like salmon. Most of the research conducted on these seems to point in the direction that they have strong brain boosting benefits and cardiovascular advantages.
The type of Omega 3 which is found in walnuts and about which we are talking is known as ALA or alpha-linolenic acid.
How To Eat Walnuts
Last but not the least, walnuts are that food which has numerous benefits and can be had in a number of ways.
Whether you like having walnuts in the form of salad, sprinkled on soups, on yogurt, in granola, or just on their own, walnuts will never fail to surprise you in their versatility. You can add them to all kinds of dishes ranging from sweet to savory which makes walnuts irresistible and delicious. Want to enhance their taste? Roast them first and then enjoy.
Walnuts have always been popular for their rich flavor and crunchiness. There’s something about this special dry fruit that makes it irresistible. But maybe you should be a little more careful and cautious about eating it the next time you pick up a handful from the plate. It is surprising how there are claims about some dangerous side effects of eating walnuts whereas we have grown up listening to how healthy they are. The facts definitely have some shocking revelations for us.
7 Ways To Eat Walnuts
We have all heard of the famous peanut butter and walnut butter doesn’t seem to be much different. Well, they both are butters of delicious nuts.
Second, just like peanut butter can be used in a variety of ways from making cookies to simply slathering on slices of bread, walnut butter surprises you with its versatility too!
There are various versions of walnut butter. Some call for toasted walnuts while some make use of raw walnuts. To make it creamier, you can also put a little bit of olive oil.
Walnut Baba Ghanoush
Eggplant spread gets a new meaning with walnuts. To give a more flavorful and rich tone to the combination, refrigerate it for 4 to 6 hours and then enjoy!
For this, you would need:
- 1 (1 to 1¼-pound) eggplant, unpeeled
- 3 large shallots
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 3 tablespoons Walnut Butter (see recipe above)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup crushed raw walnuts
Cut eggplants lengthwise removing the stem. Cut shallots lengthwise into quarters. Put both in a baking tray, coat with cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes.
Remove peel from eggplant and pulse all ingredients in a blender, then refrigerate it.
Maple Candied Walnuts
Store bought candied nuts can be sugar-loaded. Making them at home is easier. A little bit of pure maple syrup is enough to give sweet flavor and crunchy crystal coating to the walnuts.
- 1 cup raw walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Add walnuts in a dry pan on medium heat. Add all ingredients when it is hot. Cook it, stirring frequently. Let the walnuts toast and the syrup evaporate.
Scrape it out and let cool on a sheet of wax paper.
Breakfast is a power meal and you need all the energy you can get from this meal to get you through the day.
While you need to keep it simple, it should also be something revitalizing. Why don’t you add walnuts to your meal? Not only do they give a burst of energy, they also turn a plain old bowl of oatmeal into crunchy and fun one.
Salads are meant to energize and refresh you without bogging you down and adding nuts to it seems to be the perfect way of going about it. You can get maximum energy without having to eat a greasy or heavy meal.
To incorporate walnuts into salads, you can roast the nuts and toss them in a salad. You could also crumble walnuts into yogurt and then top with fruit. This creamy, nutritious delight is light on taste buds but heavy on nutrition. You can have salads/yogurts with walnuts not just for breakfast but also for desserts!
Did you know you could make actual, bake-able flour from walnut? It is possible! Walnut flour can be made by grinding walnuts to flour consistency.
You can always use this flour for pastry fillings, cakes, cookies, and much more baked goodies. Not only it is naturally gluten-free, it also brings a richer flavor to the wheat free bread. You have all the richness of walnuts while having more flavorful bread.
Walnuts are also cholesterol free so you don’t need to worry about any extra calories creeping in your diet. From bread to pies and cookies, walnut flour is the new baker’s way.
Basil Walnut Pesto
We are drooling just by the sound of its name. Usually, pesto is made using garlic, olive oil, fresh basil Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. However, if you replace the pine nuts with walnuts, those would work nice too!
You can spruce up the pesto by using different kinds of greens instead of basil. Herbs and vegetables of your choice can be added to change the base of pesto from basil.
To make this, you can process walnuts, parmesan, pecorino, tomatoes, and basil and oil till it is finely chopped. Later, season it with salt and pepper.
How Many Walnuts Should You Eat Per Day?
Walnuts are good for health however, everything should be eaten in moderation and in limits otherwise, it can be hazardous to health.
Dr. Vinson has conducted some research, according to which eating 7 walnuts a day can give you various health benefits.
Surprisingly, many of the people consume quite less a quantity of nuts. It is interesting to note that merely around 8% of the daily antioxidants in an average person’s diet originate from nuts. Many people are unaware of the benefits of the walnuts and rather stay away from it for the fear of getting fat.
However, this does not hold true for walnuts. Dr. Vinson states that fats residing in walnuts are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These are healthy and essential for body growth and should not be mistaken for those fats which clog the arteries and can lead to chronic diseases and weight gain.
In a nutshell (no pun intended!), the portion of nuts consumed by you should be in limits and small. A handful of nuts is enough to fulfill your requirements. In addition, when choosing the nuts, choose those whose shells have not been stained or cracked as in both the cases, there is a sign of mold developing on the nut which can be hazardous for you.
Side Effects and Warnings Of Eating Walnuts
Walnuts are actually loaded with healthy nutritive content but only 25 grams can give you a punch of 123 calories. But that’s not all. There are a number of other ways it can also harm our body.
Read on to find out more.
Change in Weight
Only a handful can load you up with excessive calories and can thus lead to weight gain. Eating it in large amounts along with other fattening foods can definitely lead to a major change in your body and BMI.
For anyone trying to stay fit or lose weight, walnuts can have an opposite impact on your body and therefore should be avoided in excessive amounts.
Eating walnuts in excessive amounts can also lead to various allergic reactions. While some people may experience minor allergies, others could be serious and may require medical attention. First, it is important to avoid consuming walnuts in excessive amounts and then observe to see if the allergic reaction occurred after the consumption. See your doctor if it gets serious.
Just like other dry fruits and nuts, walnuts are also allergens. Its consumption can increase the number of antibodies in our body that encourages the cells to boost the production of histamine. As a result, it can cause nausea and various digestive complications. If you experience any digestive problems, including diarrhea, after eating walnuts, you could be sensitive to its consumption.
Pregnant and Breast-Feeding Moms Should Avoid Walnuts
Walnuts are not included in the ‘safe category’ when it comes to the right foods for moms-to-be and breastfeeding moms. This specifically applies to the consumption of black walnuts. If you fall into any of these categories – lactating or pregnant women – it is best to steer clear of eating walnuts. It’s for maximum safety and for avoiding complications.
Walnuts can be healthy for people who are trying to gain weight and are not allergic to its consumption. However, excessive consumption of anything can be harmful – regardless of how healthy it is otherwise. Even if you are not allergic to it and are not even overweight, it is still advisable to keep your consumption moderate to avoid any complications. Also, be careful because sometimes the symptoms and side effects are minor in the beginning.
Your chances of experiencing allergies from walnuts increase if you are already allergic to nuts. Thus, it is important that you pay special attention when consuming walnuts. If the problem seems to persist, it is best to see your doctor to find out the right treatment for your allergies and better alternative for your snack time!