Walnuts are a part of tree nut family that includes cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, pine nuts, hazelnuts and pistachio. There are numerous health benefits associated with the tree nut family. Walnuts since ancient times have been associated with intellectual benefits. This is because walnuts have bi-lobed kernels that are convoluted and resemble the human brain. Walnuts also are associated with several health benefits. Oil extracts from walnut are also used in cooking and as a base of medicines and even in aromatherapy.
Walnuts have several culinary uses. These are widely used in confectionery items like cookies, cakes and sweets. Walnut kernels can be consumed as it is or they can be roasted and toasted. Crushed walnut kernels are used in salads and desserts. They can also be used to make walnut butter.
What do walnuts contain and how these nutrients help?
Walnuts are known for their health benefits because of their content. Walnuts are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients that are essential for optimum health.
Walnuts are rich in fatty acids and are a source of omega 3 fatty acids which improve the lipid profile of the body and have several health benefits.
The antioxidants found in walnuts are unique and very powerful. These include quinine, juglone, tannin tellimagrandin, flavonol morin. These antioxidants are believed to be so powerful and effective that they can help combat any disease. These can also prevent liver damage.
Walnuts also contain phyto-chemical substances like Vitamin E, carotenoids, melatonin. All these compounds make the immune system stronger and help fight against problems like cancer and many neurological diseases.
Walnuts are rich in minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc. These entire minerals contribute to the overall growth and development of the body and the brain in a healthy manner.
Walnuts are also rich in vitamin B complex group that ensure the healthy functioning of both the brain and the body.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
Packed with proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, plant sterols and antioxidants, the king of nuts, has unique and several health benefits.
- Reduce risk of cancer- Walnuts help to reduce the risk of cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer. This is because walnuts contain antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory nutrients that lower the risk of chronic inflammation as well as chronic oxidative stress.
- Enhanced heart health- Walnuts are beneficial for the heart as well as the circulatory system of the body. Walnuts help in controlling cholesterol levels in the body thus contributing to heart health. Walnuts also prevent excessive blood clotting and ensure a smooth flow of blood throughout the body. The omega 3 fatty acids help to keep the blood pressure in control, thereby affecting the overall heart health.
- Weight Control- Eating walnuts increases satiety and a person feels full, thus walnuts also help one in managing and controlling weight.
- Enhanced brain health- Walnuts are rich in several neuro-protective compounds like folate, Vitamin E, omega 3 fats and melatonin. Walnuts enhance brain health and increase the power of inferential reasoning among the young adults. The antioxidants in walnuts enhance cognitive and motor skills and functioning and also reduce stress.
- Reduces risk of diabetes- Walnuts are beneficial for people who have type-2 diabetes. The antioxidants in walnuts improve the metabolism and fat consumption in the body, thereby ensuring a controlled level of sugar in the blood.
- Improve Reproductive Health of Men- Walnuts have a beneficial impact on man fertility. Walnuts improve sperm quality including their vitality and motility.
How should walnuts be consumed?
The outermost layer of the walnut has a bitter flavor and most people remove it when consuming walnuts. It is however recommended that one must refrain from removing this outer skin of the walnut and consume it as it is. This is because ninety percent of the anti-oxidants are found in the skin of the walnut. Walnuts can also be consumed by soaking them overnight and then dehydrating at a low temperature. This improves the quality of the walnuts as soaking lowers the content of enzyme inhibitors and phytic acids in walnuts.
All health conscious people must munch a handful of walnuts everyday to get vitamins, minerals and proteins in sufficient quantity for the body to function well.