By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Is your diet nuts? More specifically - are you nuts about walnuts? If you are, research shows you are helping to dramatically improve your health. How so? Walnuts contain good levels of a whole host of nutrients from omega-3 fatty acids to vitamin E and vitamin B6. Eating walnuts is associated with health benefits as diverse as cancer prevention, Alzheimer's prevention and heart protection. Are walnuts part of your healthy diet? Here's why they should be.
All about Walnuts
Walnuts are tree nuts, like Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios.
All of these nuts have reported health benefits but walnuts are particularly effective at preventing and treating various conditions.
Eat about 7 whole walnuts, or 14 walnut halves, a day to get the benefits - with this many nuts, you are unlikely to have problems with the calories in walnuts.
As part of a healthy diet they provide important nutrients as part of your overall calorie intake. Snack on walnuts instead of chips or cookies, or chop walnuts and add them to salads, desserts, or vegetable dishes.
Nutritional Profile of Walnuts
A 30g serving of walnuts contains around 5g of protein (9 percent of the DV), 5.70 mcg of biotin (19 percent of the DV), 29 mcg of folate (7 percent of the DV), 0.16mg of vitamin B6 (9 percent of the DV), plus good levels of vitamin E, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc.
Walnuts are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids - 2.72g, which is 113 percent of the DV. The high content of omega-3 fatty acids is said to account for many of the nut's heart-healthy benefits.
We looked at recent scientific studies to give you the lowdown on why walnuts are good for your health. Take a look and try some today - a simple way to beat disease and give your body a boost.
1. Prevent Dementia by Eating Walnuts
Just one handful of walnuts a day can help keep dementia at bay, according to a 2014 study from New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR). Nutrients in walnuts help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, slow its progression, and delay the onset of the disease, according to scientists - the high antioxidant content is highlighted as a brain-protective element. Researchers looked at the effect of walnut supplementation on mice.
2. Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer with Walnuts
A 2009 study from the Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia shows regularly eating walnuts reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.
Scientists looked at the diet of mice fed walnuts and mice fed a control diet, and discovered that those mice eating walnuts had a decreased incidence of tumors. Researchers point to the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts for the effect.
3. Reduce Triglycerides with Walnut Oil
Triglycerides are a fat-related substance and elevated levels of triglycerides contribute to heart disease.
Common reasons for elevated triglycerides include diabetes, high alcohol intake, genetics, and some medications.
Walnut oil has demonstrated promise for reducing triglycerides, according to a 2003 study from the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
4. Eating Walnuts Reduces Heart Disease Risk, Unclogs Your Arteries
Eating walnuts and consuming walnut oil helps reduce cholesterol, according to studies like the 1994 report from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Division of Human Nutrition, Adelaide, Australia, and it also helps prevent heart disease in other ways.
A 2013 study from Penn State, Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania showed consuming walnuts boosted blood vessel functioning by preserving the function of cells that line the blood vessel walls.
5. Boost Sperm Quality by Eating Walnuts
Eating a small packet of walnuts every day can help boost sperm quality, according to a 2012 study from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Healthy men who eat a 75g packet of walnuts each day can increase the vitality, motility and structure of sperm, say researchers, which may lead to improved fertility.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids help mature sperm and improve sperm's ability to fertilize an egg.
6. Walnuts are the Champions of Antioxidants
Walnuts hit the number one spot for their antioxidant content, according to a 2011 study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
Walnuts have more antioxidants, and higher quality antioxidants, than any other nut, scientists say - one handful of walnuts contains more than twice as many antioxidants as any other nut.
Antioxidants help the body fight disease as well as protect against inflammation.
7. Deal Better with Stress and Lower Your Blood Pressure- Eat Walnuts
A diet full of walnuts helps your body deal better with stress, according to a 2010 study from Penn State University.
Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts can help to deaden the damaging biological response to stress that results in higher rates of heart disease.
Scientists found that walnuts and walnut oil in the diet help to lower blood pressure in a resting state as well as when the body is under stress.
8. Protect Against Prostate Cancer by Eating Walnuts
Eating a few walnuts a day also helps to protect against prostate cancer, according to a 2013 study from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.
Scientists looked at the effect of a walnut-enriched diet on the progression of prostate cancer in mice.
Mice consuming walnuts developed fewer tumors and the average tumor size in the walnut-fed rats was around a quarter of those that developed in mice eating a regular diet. The amount of walnuts the mice consumed was equivalent to humans eating two handfuls of walnuts a day.