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Walnuts belong to the tree nut family, along with Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios. Each has its own unique nutritional profile. They originated in the Mediterranean region and Central Asia, and have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. These nuts are rich in omega-3 fats and contain higher amounts of antioxidants than most other foods. Eating walnuts may improve brain health while also helping to prevent heart disease and cancer. The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is somewhat unusual, and particularly beneficial. Instead of having most of its vitamin E present in the alpha-tocopherol form, walnuts provide an unusually high level of vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol. Particularly in studies on the cardiovascular health of men, this gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E has been found to provide significant protection from heart problems.
Walnuts are most often eaten on their own as a snack. However, they can also be added to salads, pastas, breakfast cereals, soups and baked goods. They are also used to make walnut oil, an expensive culinary oil often used in salad dressings.
One-quarter cup of walnuts, for instance, provides more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value of plant-based omega-3 fats, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin.
- Due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the walnuts, they are very beneficial to the cardiovascular system. It has been found that eating just a few walnuts per day can help reduce the blood pressure, so those with high blood pressure take note! The omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce the bad cholesterol in the body and encourage the production of the good cholesterol. This is again beneficial for the heart
- Several human studies indicate that eating nuts may improve brain function. They also show that walnuts can help with depression and age-related decline in brain function.
- Walnuts may help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well. In one study, mice that ate the human equivalent of 2.4 ounces of whole walnuts for 18 weeks had significantly smaller and slower-growing prostate tumors compared to the control group that consumed the same amount of fat, but from other sources.Overall the whole walnut diet reduced prostate cancer growth by 30 to 40 percent.
- Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors.
- Walnuts also contain the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is anti-inflammatory and may prevent the formation of pathological blood clots. Research shows that people who eat a diet high in ALA are less likely to have a fatal heart attack and have a nearly 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death.
- Adding healthful amounts of nuts such as walnuts to your diet can help you to maintain your ideal weight over time.
- The beneficial dietary fat in walnuts has been shown to improve metabolic parameters in people with type 2 diabetes. Overweight adults with type 2 diabetes who ate one-quarter cup of walnuts daily had significant reductions in fasting insulin levels compared to those who did not, and the benefit was achieved in the first three months.
- Walnuts have high amounts of antioxidants in them that keep your immune system healthy and prevent the onset of diseases. Add some walnuts to your diet every day to keep yourself fit as a fiddle.
- Walnuts contain an essential fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid. This alpha linolenic acid and its compounds have been associated with stronger and healthier bones. Also, as you intake omega-3 fatty acids through walnuts, inflammation decreases, and this is related to keeping the bones stronger for a longer duration.
- Having a walnut daily can greatly benefit those who are expecting. Walnuts contain healthy vitamin B-Complex groups like folates, riboflavin, thiamin, etc. These are necessary for a pregnant woman and the fetus.
Isn’t it just amazing that, to cap up all the incredible benefits, walnuts are incredibly tasty as well.