We all probably think walnuts are healthy. But this is actually a huge understatement how nutritious they really are. Walnuts provide healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals and that’s just the beginning!
Here are 5 science-based health benefits of walnuts.
1. May Decrease Inflammation
Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, alzheimer’s disease and cancer all have inflammation and oxidative stress at their root causes. The polyphenols in walnuts can help fight both of these contributing factors.
A subgroup of polyphenols called ellagitannins may be especially involved and the beneficial bacteria in your gut convert ellagitannins to compounds called urolithins, which have been found to protect against inflammation. ALA omega-3 fat, magnesium and the amino acid arginine in walnuts may also decrease inflammation.
2. Promotes a Healthy Gut
Eating walnuts may be one way to support the health of your microbiota and your gut. Studies suggest that if your gut is rich in health-promoting bacteria you’re more likely to have good overall health. An unhealthy gut can lead to to inflammation and disease.
3. May Reduce Risk of Some Cancers
Studies suggest that eating walnuts may reduce your risk of cancers such a breast, prostate and colorectal. More human studies are needed to confirm the effects of eating walnuts on decreasing the risk of these cancers.
It’s believed that walnuts contribute to anti-inflammatory properties in your gut, which may be one way they help protect against colorectal cancer. These anti-inflammatory actions could also help protect against other cancers. What’s more, urolithins, mentioned earlier have hormone-like properties that enable them to block hormone receptors in your body. This may help reduce your risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers.
4. Supports Weight Control
In a well-controlled study of 10 obese people, drinking a smoothie made with about 1.75 ounces (48 grams) of walnuts once a day for five days decreased appetite and hunger, compared to a placebo drink equal in calories and nutrients.
Additionally, after five days of consuming the walnut smoothies, brain scans showed that the participants had increased activation in a region of the brain that helped them resist highly tempting food cues. More studies are needed but this provides some initial insight as to how walnuts may help control appetite.
5. May Help Manage And Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Excess weight increases your risk of high blood sugar and diabetes. As mentioned earlier, studies suggest walnuts may help control weight. Additionally, walnuts may help control blood sugar by mechanisms beyond just their influence on weight control. In a controlled study, of 100 people with type 2 diabetes, consuming 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed walnut oil a day for 3 months, while continuing their usual diabetes medication and balanced diet, resulted in an 8% decrease in fasting blood sugar.
Walnuts are an exceptionally nutritious nut and have higher antioxidant activity and significantly more healthy omega-3 fats than any other common nut. Fortunately, they are easy to add to your diet and are readily available in grocery stores everywhere.