Walnuts used to be viewed as unhealthy due to their high fat and calorie content, but in recent history we have found this assumption to be completely false. These tree nuts have negligible sodium, are cholesterol free and are unique in the fact that they contain polyunsaturated fats instead of monounsaturated fats (basically the type of fat is healthier than in other nuts).
The health benefits of walnuts that result from their impressive content resume are many. Let’s discuss a handful of the benefits of walnuts you might not already know.
10 Health Benefits of Walnuts
1. Improve Your Memory
Walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a kind of omega-3 fatty acid that plays an important role in brain cell structure and function. In the body, ALA can be transformed into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a key component of brain tissue that contributes to brain health. This is why walnuts are good for memory and cognitive function.
2. Help Prevent Depression
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to lower depression risk and improved mood. They are essential for brain health and the proper function of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that regulate mood, emotions, and overall mental well-being.
By including walnuts in your diet, you can increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and potentially support mental wellness, which can help prevent depression.
3. Improve Sperm Quality
Walnuts include antioxidants such as vitamin E, polyphenols, and melatonin. These antioxidants help in the reduction of oxidative stress which can cause sperm dysfunction, such as decreased sperm count, motility, and aberrant morphology.
Consuming walnuts, which are rich in antioxidants, can boost sperm health and enhance sperm quality.
4. Grow Healthy, Strong Hair and Nails
Walnuts contain biotin, a B-vitamin that is essential for the strength and health of hair and nails. Biotin deficiency can cause brittle nails and thinning hair, therefore eating biotin-rich foods like walnuts can help prevent these problems.
5. Help Prevent Prostate and Breast Cancer
Walnuts have the highest amount of antioxidants in the nut family. Due to this boost of antioxidants, walnuts have been proven to help slow the growth of both prostate and breast cancers.
6. Improve Motor Function
A healthy brain is required for proper motor function. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are essential for the construction and function of brain cells, including those involved in motor control. As previously said, walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is why walnuts can indirectly help better motor function.
7. Great for the Skin
Consuming walnuts helps the skin look younger and healthier due to the powerful antioxidant, vitamin E. Walnuts also include minerals such as zinc and selenium, which are essential for keeping healthy skin.
You can also use walnut oil topically for protection against dry skin.
8. Help Prevent Heart Disease
Walnuts are a good source of healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), have been linked to several cardiovascular benefits. They can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce triglycerides, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
Two to three servings of walnuts a day can decrease cholesterol levels enough to lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
If you have heart disease in your family, you might want to consider stocking up on this healthy nut!
9. Facilitate Weight Management
Walnuts are a nutrient-dense food high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. These ingredients enhance satiety, meaning they make you feel full and satisfied after eating.
Including walnuts in your meals or snacks can help curb cravings and lower the likelihood of overeating, potentially helping in weight management. Walnuts are certainly a better option than most low calorie snacks or vending machine items with no risk of a sugar spike or crash.
10. Boost Your Energy
While walnuts do not deliver an instant energy boost like caffeine or sugary snacks, they do contribute to sustained energy levels.
Walnuts are a great source of nutrients that help the body generate energy. They contain B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6, which facilitate the conversion of food into energy. These vitamins are also involved in metabolic processes that help transform carbs, proteins, and lipids into energy.
Packed with healthy essential fats, antioxidants, vitamins, trace minerals, protein and fiber, walnuts are a veritable super food.
A word of caution though: Too much of a good thing can be bad. Consuming too many walnuts is thought to cause kidney stones due to their oxalate content. About 1.5 ounces a day is likely the best amount.
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