Fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals - walnuts have got it all. But being an extremely nutritious food is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the health benefits of this nut are concerned.
Here are nine (9) more benefits to glean from eating walnuts.
Walnuts Are Rich In Antioxidants
Walnuts contain more antioxidants than any other edible nut. Thanks to its paper-thin skin, packed with vitamin E, melatonin, and polyphenols (plant compounds). Eating a diet rich in walnuts can prevent 'bad' cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) oxidizing in the arteries, which causes atherosclerosis.
Walnuts Are Omega-3 Rich
Walnuts are the best plant sources of Omega-3 fats called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). ALA is an essential fat because you can only get it from your diet. Just an ounce serving of walnuts gives the body 2.5 grams of Omega-3s. It is worth noting that a recommended daily intake of 1.6 grams (for men) and 1.1 grams (for women) of walnuts is enough to prevent heart disease by 10%.
Keeps The Gut and Heart Healthy
Health-promoting bacteria and microbes (gut microbiota) are necessary for a healthy gut and good health. An unhealthy gut can lead to inflammation and diseases, risk factors for cancer, obesity and heart disease. However, eating walnuts can give you healthy bacteria and microbes. Walnuts are known to increase the bacteria that produce butyrate, a fat that nourishes the gut.
Eating walnuts can also lower two risk factors for heart diseases; high LDL and high blood pressure. Additionally, walnuts promote good heart health by boosting the function of the lining of the heart and blood vessels (endothelium) and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Helps Maintain A Healthy Weight
Like almonds, walnuts contain a lot of calories which gives the feeling of being full when you eat them and keeps cravings at bay. For people trying to lose weight, this is a plus. A 2018 study showed ten people who drank a walnut smoothie for five (5) days experienced low appetite and hunger. Also, brain scans of the ten people showed that the part of the brain that controlled cravings was very active.
Helps To Manage Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar
High blood pressure increases one's risk of heart disease and stroke. However, a walnut-rich diet can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension or under stress. No wonder people from the Mediterranean are unusually healthy. It is a well-known fact that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is the ideal diet for preventing many diseases. For instance, a 4-year study put 7,500 adults prone to heart disease on a Mediterranean diet packed with walnuts. The results showed a reduction in their diastolic blood pressure.
Walnuts also help lower blood sugar and lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. Well, for one thing, we know they help to control body weight which is a risk factor for high blood sugar and diabetes. Nonetheless, walnuts can control blood sugar by other mechanisms. First, walnuts help build resistance for insulin which controls blood sugar levels. Moreover, they are fibre-rich, and because fibres take a long time to break down and digest, it causes a slow release of sugar in the bloodstream. Lastly, walnuts have a low Glycaemic Index (GI) which shows how quickly foods affect blood sugar. So, walnuts do not increase blood sugar and are healthy for people with diabetes.
Promotes Good Brain Function and Male Reproductive Health
Walnuts are rich in nutrients which prevent oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain, which causes diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Research has linked eating walnuts to better brain function (good memory, faster processing, and improved learning skills).
Besides, a walnut-rich diet can boost male-reproductive health; it improves sperm health and male fertility. Walnuts can also prevent oxidative damage in sperm membranes. However, more research is needed to support these claims.
Keeps Cancers At Bay
We mentioned that walnuts are rich in polyphenols (plant compounds). Gut microbes can break down polyphenols called ellagitannins into compounds called urolithins. The anti-inflammatory properties of urolithins in the gut can prevent colorectal cancers. Moreover, the hormone-like properties of urolithins can make them fight off hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancers.
Inflammation caused by oxidative stress is the root cause of many life-threatening diseases - Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer and diabetes (type 2). However, walnuts contain nutrients that combat inflammation in the body. Polyphenols, ALA omega-3 fat, magnesium, and arginine (an amino acid) have anti-inflammatory properties.
Keeps You Healthy As You Age
Healthy-eating habits and a healthy diet are essential to good physical functioning when a person ages. Walnuts, a powerhouse for vitamins, minerals, fats, fibre and plant compounds, are a must-eat for the aged.
Disclaimer: The information shared by this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be professional medical advice nor a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician concerning anything you have read here.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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