Walnuts are actually seeds not nuts! They grow in little green fruits that look like grainy textured apples on walnut trees, which are any tree from the genus Juglans. Once the green skin is peeled off, a more familiar sight is seen. The hard shell is difficult to crack open, but inside is one of most popular nuts in the world. It is shaped like a brain, but studies show it heals the heart.

Brief History of the Walnut

People have been cultivating and eating walnuts for roughly 9,000 years. They come from the family Juglandaceae. Walnuts are thought to have been widely consumed in the Gaul region of Western Europe, but they are native to India and Persia. They spread through Europe and were introduced by British settlers in North America.

The Latin name of English Walnut is Juglans regia. The variety native to North America are white and black walnuts called Juglans nigra. The walnut tree can grow up to 35 meters high and has a life span that is many times longer than the average human.

Walnuts are the Healthiest Nut

The best thing about walnuts is that they are one of the healthiest foods that are cultivated to be eaten. Studies promote them as a perfect dietary supplement. This is especially true because of the wide range of benefits they provide for physical health. They have preventive properties to keep fitness in check.

Walnuts are High in Antioxidants

Walnuts contain several organic phenolic compounds in the seed and outer covering, including; flavonoids, phenolic acids and tannins. These phenolic compounds have have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, which are molecules that can cause damage to cells and contribute to various diseases and aging processes.T

These antioxidant compounds help protect the delicate fats in walnuts from oxidation, which can lead to rancidity and a decrease in nutritional quality.

Additionally, the antioxidant properties of phenols in walnuts contribute to their health benefits to humans, such as; reducing inflammation, improving heart health and supporting brain function.

Eating walnuts as part of a balanced diet can provide a source of these beneficial phenolic compounds, along with other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Incorporating walnuts into your diet can contribute to overall health and well-being, in part due to their antioxidant properties.

Walnuts Strengthen the Immune System

Antioxidants stabilise and protect the immune system from damaged or infected cells trying to attack it. This is why eating walnuts is great a way to reduce the risk of weakening the immune system.

Walnuts for Cancer Prevention

Walnuts have become significant in research for cancer prevention and treatment. Walnuts contain antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals and promote a healthy gut microbiota, which may contribute to cancer prevention. These factors help neutralize free radicals, reduce inflammation, inhibit cancer cell growth and support weight management.

While walnuts offer potential health benefits, they should be part of a balanced diet alongside other healthy lifestyle habits for comprehensive cancer prevention.

Walnuts for Cardiovascular Health

The area of the body that receives the most help from walnuts is the heart and the rest of the circulatory system. They lower the risk of blood clotting by ensuring that blood vessels are clean and clear. They also keep blood pressure steady. Studies show that the nutrients present in walnuts optimize the circulatory system into a well-balanced and efficiently functioning unit. The omega-3 in walnuts helps with this.

By keeping the circulatory system in good shape, eating walnuts makes other connected illnesses less of a risk. Walnuts can provide preventive measures against medical problems such as diabetes, polycythemia and the possibility of a stroke. Walnuts still help in improving the immune system’s efforts to strengthen itself in people with diabetes.

Walnuts for Weight Loss

Walnuts are great for people who are looking for a healthy way of losing weight. Nuts in general have around 690 calories per 100 grams. It may sound like a high calorie count, but they are filling and also contain a high fibre and protein content, so snacking on nuts and seeds is a good way of stopping the hunger pangs with a densely beneficial food source, and also reducing the cravings for other much less healthy snacks.

Anti-inflammatory Effects of Walnuts

Walnuts are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects. They help reduce inflammation in the body and on the surface of the skin.

Walnuts have several properties that contribute to their anti-inflammatory effects:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Walnuts are one of the richest plant-based sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is converted in the body into longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have potent anti-inflammatory properties. These fatty acids help reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines and reducing the activity of inflammatory enzymes.

Phenolic Compounds: As mentioned above, walnuts contain various phenolic compounds, including flavonoids and phenolic acids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body and reduce oxidative stress, which can contribute to inflammation.

Vitamin E: Walnuts are a good source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative damage and inflammation. Vitamin E scavenges free radicals and inhibits the production of inflammatory compounds, thereby reducing inflammation.

Fiber: Walnuts contain dietary fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber plays a role in promoting gut health and reducing inflammation by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing the levels of inflammatory markers in the body.

Polyphenols: Polyphenols are another group of compounds found in walnuts that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds help modulate immune responses and reduce inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory signaling pathways.

Overall, the combination of omega-3 fatty acids, phenolic compounds, vitamin E, fiber and polyphenols in walnuts contributes to their potential anti-inflammatory effects. Including walnuts as part of a balanced diet may help reduce inflammation in the body and lower the risk of chronic inflammatory conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and certain types of cancer.

Nutritional Content of Walnuts

Scientists claim walnuts have high antioxidant levels compared to other kinds of nuts or seeds. They also have the greatest nutritional content.

Walnuts are a nutrient-dense food packed with various vitamins, minerals and beneficial compounds. Incorporating walnuts into a balanced diet can provide a range of nutrients and health benefits.

Here’s an overview of the nutritional content of walnuts per 1 ounce (28 grams), which is approximately a small handful:

Calories: Approximately 185 kcal
Protein: About 4.3 grams
Total Fat: Approximately 18.5 grams
Saturated Fat: About 1.7 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: About 2.5 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat: About 13.5 grams (including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids)
Carbohydrates: Approximately 3.9 grams
Dietary Fiber: About 1.9 grams
Sugars: About 0.7 grams
Vitamin E: Approximately 1.9 mg (9% of the Daily Value, DV)
Folate (Vitamin B9): Approximately 28.1 mcg (7% DV)
Magnesium: Approximately 45.6 mg (11% DV)
Phosphorus: Approximately 98.3 mg (10% DV)
Potassium: Approximately 125 mg (3% DV)

In addition to these nutrients, walnuts also contain small amounts of; calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6 and other vitamins and minerals. They are also a good source of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, flavonoids and vitamin E, which have various health benefits.

The fat in walnuts is predominantly polyunsaturated fat, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may have cardiovascular benefits and support brain health.

It’s important to note that while walnuts are nutrient-rich, they are also calorie-dense, so portion control is key, especially if you’re watching your calorie intake.

How To Consume Walnuts

Walnuts can be eaten raw, roasted and salted. Neither salting or roasting preparation will diminish the nutritional value of walnuts, however be careful of consuming too much salt.

Walnut as a Cooking Ingredient

Walnuts can be crushed and stirred into soup. They can be chopped and sprinkled on stir-fried chicken. There are even a number of recipes for walnut bread and cakes. They can be baked with fruit like apples, pears and blueberries. They are also commonly baked with pumpkin, chocolate and maple. Walnuts can be made into cereal bars and put into oatmeal. They can also be prepared with main courses as well as desserts.

There are salads that incorporate walnuts into their dressings, as well as toasting them and putting them on as a topping. The most famous example is the Waldorf salad.

How to Make a Waldorf Salad:
To make a Waldorf salad, simply combine the diced or sliced apples, celery, walnuts and optional extra ingredients in a bowl. Toss with the mayonnaise or yogurt dressing until evenly coated. Serve the salad chilled as a refreshing side dish or light meal.

Walnut Oil

Walnut oil can be used for a vinaigrette, to be eaten with greens or bread.

Walnut oil is typically made through a process called cold pressing, which involves extracting oil from walnut kernels without the use of heat or chemicals.

Cold pressing is the preferred method for making walnut oil because it preserves the natural flavor, aroma, and nutritional qualities of the walnuts. Additionally, cold-pressed walnut oil is considered a healthier option compared to refined walnut oil, which may undergo processes such as heating, bleaching or deodorizing that can strip away some of its beneficial properties.

Here’s an overview of how walnut oil is made:

Harvesting: The process begins with the harvesting of mature walnuts. The nuts are collected from walnut trees once they are fully ripe.
Shelling: After harvesting, the walnuts are shelled to remove the outer hull and reveal the edible kernels inside. The kernels, or “meat,” are the part of the walnut used to make walnut oil.
Cleaning: The walnut kernels are thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt, debris, or remaining shell fragments.
Grinding: The cleaned walnut kernels are then ground or crushed into a paste-like consistency. This can be done using various methods, such as mechanical pressing or grinding.
Pressing: The ground walnut paste is placed into a hydraulic press, where pressure is applied to extract the oil. The pressing process separates the oil from the solid walnut particles.
Filtration: Once the oil is extracted, it is typically filtered to remove any remaining solid particles or impurities. Filtration helps clarify the oil and improve its purity and shelf life.
Bottling: The filtered walnut oil is then bottled and packaged for distribution and sale. It may be sold as pure walnut oil or blended with other oils for specific culinary purposes.

Walnut Supplements

Walnuts supplements are also available. Walnut supplements typically contain extracts or concentrated forms of compounds found in walnuts, such as omega-3 fatty acids, phenolic compounds and other bioactive substances.

Here are some common components found in walnut supplements:

Walnut Extracts: These supplements may contain extracts derived from various parts of the walnut, including the nut itself, the hull (outer shell) or the leaves. These extracts are often standardized to contain specific compounds such as omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols or other bioactive substances.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Many walnut supplements are marketed for their omega-3 fatty acid content, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is abundant in walnuts. Some supplements may also contain other omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), although these are more commonly derived from fish oil.

Phenolic Compounds: Phenolic compounds found in walnuts, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Walnut supplements may include concentrated forms of these compounds to provide potential health benefits.

Vitamin E: Walnuts are a good source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant. Some walnut supplements may contain added vitamin E to enhance their antioxidant effects.

Other Nutrients: Walnut supplements may also contain other nutrients found in walnuts, such as fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients contribute to the overall nutritional profile of the supplement and may provide additional health benefits.

It’s important to note that the composition of walnut supplements can vary widely depending on the manufacturer and the specific formulation. Some supplements may contain additional ingredients or fillers to improve taste, texture or shelf life.

Before taking any walnut supplement, it’s advisable to read the label carefully and choose products from reputable brands to ensure safety and efficacy.

Other Uses of the Walnut Tree

Other than eating the walnut, the tree’s bark and leaves also have uses of their own. When boiled and strained into a drink, the bark and leaves can be made into a laxative. This boiled mixture is also good for cleansing the liver, and can be a remedy for ulcers if used in careful doses.

Externally, walnut bark can be used for treating problems with the skin because of its antiseptic uses. It is helpful in fighting off possible infections.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Walnut Notes / Side Effects

While walnuts are nutrient-rich and offer numerous health benefits, consuming them in excessive amounts or for some individuals with specific health conditions may lead to side effects.

Here are some potential side effects associated with walnuts:

Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to tree nuts, including walnuts. Allergic reactions to walnuts can range from mild symptoms such as itching or swelling of the lips, mouth, or throat to more severe reactions such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, or anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. If you have a known allergy to walnuts or other tree nuts, it’s essential to avoid them to prevent allergic reactions.

Digestive Issues: Eating too many walnuts or consuming them in large quantities may cause digestive discomfort for some people. This can include symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, or stomach cramps. If you experience digestive issues after eating walnuts, try moderating your intake and see if symptoms improve.

Weight Gain: While walnuts are nutrient-dense and offer numerous health benefits, they are also calorie-dense due to their high fat content. Eating large quantities of walnuts without considering portion sizes can contribute to excess calorie intake and potentially lead to weight gain, especially if they are consumed as snacks or added to dishes in large amounts.

Interactions with Medications: Walnuts contain compounds that may interact with certain medications. For example, the high vitamin K content in walnuts may interfere with the effectiveness of anticoagulant medications (blood thinners) by promoting blood clotting. If you’re taking medication, particularly anticoagulants, consult with your healthcare provider before adding walnuts to your diet.

Oxalate Content: Walnuts, like many other nuts and seeds, contain oxalates, which are compounds that can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones or are at risk of developing them, it may be advisable to moderate your intake of high-oxalate foods, including walnuts.

Overall, walnuts are a nutritious addition to a balanced diet for most people when consumed in moderation. However, it’s essential to be mindful of portion sizes and potential interactions with medications or health conditions.

If you have any concerns or experience adverse effects after eating walnuts, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

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