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Walnuts; The Tree Nut for the Healthy Eater

Updated on July 15, 2013
A bundle of walnuts
A bundle of walnuts

When it comes to nuts, Walnuts are king in the health department. They are packed full of healthier and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut. This is not saying that other nuts are not healthy, but that eating walnuts gives the consumer more benefits than any other. Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania recently said, "A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don't eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet."

Research has discovered that adding just a handful of walnuts (around 10) to your daily diet can directly affect your chances of developing some mighty common conditions. Walnuts can significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease, gallstones, diabetes, certain kinds of cancer,

A typical vegan meal, with dried fruits, walnuts, and other nuts
A typical vegan meal, with dried fruits, walnuts, and other nuts

Walnuts contain enough high quality protein to replace meat. This is a nut that is essential to the diet of a vegetarian or vegan, whom often are not getting enough protein in their diets. Each ounce of walnuts provides 4g of protein. Eating too much animal protein correlates with higher cholesterol levels and increased inflammation throughout the body. Adding protein from plant sources can promote a healthier immune system. For those that do eat meant, a mix of both animal protein and plant protein can enable a better balance of proteins within the body.

the vitamin E in walnuts are 10 to 15 times more potent than the Vitamin E in capsule form
the vitamin E in walnuts are 10 to 15 times more potent than the Vitamin E in capsule form

The antioxidant vitamin E found in walnuts is 10 to 15 times stronger than the vitamin E in the capsule form. The type of vitamin E found in walnuts is a little bit unusual. Most foods with vitamin E have it present in the alpha-tocopherol form, where as walnuts are high in the gamma-tocopherol form. This form of vitamin E protects the body against damaging free radicals. A study particularly aimed at men, showed a significant protection of the cardiovascular system. Basically, this means if you are a guy and heart disease runs in the family, it would be a really good idea to start eating walnuts every day. Walnuts are also a great source of natural B vitamins, which help your body to convert food to energy.

Eating walnuts can help decrease the chances of heart attack
Eating walnuts can help decrease the chances of heart attack

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States added a new label to Walnuts in 2004, saying that Walnuts promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Simply put, walnuts decrease the risk of heart disease. Walnuts contain the fatty acid alpha-linoleic, which is the prized compound found in increasingly popular omega-3 fat. This particular fatty acid not only creates a better atmosphere for the heart, it also encourages a stronger immune system and reduces the bad cholesterol levels. According to California Nuts, walnuts contain 18g of fat per ounce, with 13 of the grams being cholesterol-lowering fats.

Walnuts hanging from a tree
Walnuts hanging from a tree

Two minerals that are essential to a healthy body are magnesium and copper. It is also very difficult to detect if a person is deficient in these two minerals. This makes it even more important to add magnesium and copper to your diet. Magnesium encourages bone strength, healthy heart muscles and a smooth running digestive system. Copper aids in collagen formation in joints, red blood cell formation and naturally increases energy.

They are also a good source of calcium, iron, zinc and selenium. Zinc is a mineral that regulates growth and development, sperm generation and digestion. Selenium is an anti-oxidant that helps protect your cells from damaging free radicals.

Walnuts are an excellent source of fiber
Walnuts are an excellent source of fiber

How many times have you been told to add fiber to your diet? If you are not a fan of bran cereal, this could pose a problem. Fear not, just an ounce of walnuts contain 2g of fiber. Walnuts are also a great source of potassium. Every have muscle cramps and been told to eat a banana to help? A handful of walnuts will do the same thing.

1 in every 4 adults in the United States is considered obese. This is a scary statistic. Obesity can cause a large number of health issues. A recent study had participants eat about one ounce of walnuts daily for 3 months, without any other major changes to their diet. The results of the study were stunning. Walnuts have the capability to lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol and help to break down stored fat cells. Walnuts can help a person to lose weight. Walnuts alone will not do the trick, but adopting a better diet with walnuts included and exercising regularly will aid a person in achieving their weight loss goals.

Walnuts can help fight off cancer
Walnuts can help fight off cancer

Taking into account that walnuts contain a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, it is not a surprise to hear that walnuts are being studied for their anti-cancer properties. Walnuts lower the risk of the two types of risk that pose the greatest stress for cancer development; oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Studies indicate that consuming 3 ounces of walnuts every day will in fact reduce a person’s chance of developing cancer. Evidence also suggests that walnuts will aid in breast cancer and prostate cancer remission.

Walnuts can help to increase cognitive abilities
Walnuts can help to increase cognitive abilities

There have also been studies that have shown the health benefits of walnuts when it comes to thought process and memory. Walnuts increase brain function and allow for a person to better retain information and memories. There is not enough evidence to support the claim, as there have only been a few studies. Though it is known that omega-3 fats aid in brain function, allowing consumers to learn and soak up information better. Omega-3 is also important for brain development. young children and pregnant women are encouraged to add walnuts to their diet, in order to get enough of this nutrient. You often hear of people taking fish oil capsules in order to take in their daily amount of omega-3.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount per serving
Daily Value %
Calories
765 (3203 kJ)
38%
From Carbohydrate
64.8 (271 kJ)
 
From Fat
639 (2675 kJ)
 
From Protein
61.8 (259 kJ)
 
Total Carbohydrate
16.0g
5%
Dietary Fiber
7.8g
31%
Starch
0.1g
 
Sugars
3.1g
 
Total Fat
76.3g
117%
Saturated Fat
7.2g
36%
Monounsaturated Fat
10.5g
 
Polyunsaturated Fat
55.2g
 
Total Omega-3 fatty acids
10623mg
 
Total Omega-6 fatty acids
44567mg
 
Protein
17.8g
36%
Phytosterols
84.2mg
 
Vitamin A
23.4IU
0%
Vitamin C
1.5mg
3%
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)
0.8mg
4%
Vitamin K
3.2mcg
4%
Thiamin
0.4mg
27%
Riboflavin
0.2mg
10%
Niacin
1.3mg
7%
Vitamin B6
0.6mg
31%
Folate
115mcg
29%
Pantothenic Acid
0.7mg
7%
Choline
45.9mg
 
Betaine
0.4mg
 
Calcium
115mg
11%
Iron
3.4mg
19%
Magnesium
185mg
46%
Phosphorus
405mg
40%
Potassium
516mg
15%
Zinc
3.6mg
24%
Copper
1.9mg
93%
Manganese
4.0mg
200%
Selenium
5.7mcg
8%

Ways to Eat Walnuts

It is quite easy to add walnuts to your diet, even if you have never eaten them before. They can add an extra crunch and flavor to any meal. Here are some ideas on how to add a handful of walnuts to your daily diet:

  • In a salad
  • Plain, as a snack
  • Mixed with yogurt
  • Toasted, tossed in a pasta
  • With honey drizzled over the top
  • As topping on a pizza
  • Topping on a dessert
  • In a fruit salad
  • With breakfast cereal
  • cooked with green beand
  • baked with chicken breast, served over the top
  • Cheesecake topping
  • Baked into bread
  • Topping on bread
  • In a spaghetti sauce
  • Cranberry-walnut relish
  • boiled with asparagus
  • In Green bean casserole
  • Topping on salmon
  • Mixed with rice
  • Mixed with broccoli
  • Topping for sticky buns
  • Topping for cinnamon rolls
  • In a potato salad
  • In a tuna salad sandwich
  • In an egg salad
  • Mixed with carrots
  • In a Cobb salad
  • On a burger
  • As a trail mix
  • Mixed with hummus
  • In a wrap
  • On a sandwich
  • In Chili
  • On a spiral ham
  • In stuffing
  • With Stir Fry
  • In Chiles Rellenos
  • As a turkey stuffing
  • In potato soup
  • in tomato soup
  • Granola and walnut bars

There are countless ways to enjoy walnuts! They can be added to almost any meal in every culture. They are versitile and can be prepared in many ways. I hope that I have insired you to add this delicious tree nut to your daily diet.

How often do you eat walnuts?

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    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      I love walnuts, and have them most every day. I like that you provided many of the health benefits, nutrition information, and ideas of what to eat them in.

      I just made homemade granola today, with walnuts and pecans. It tastes so good!

      Thanks for sharing this informative hub with us.

    • StitchTheDamned profile image
      Author

      StitchTheDamned 4 years ago from Clifton Park, NY

      Oh wow. That's a great deal! I really like them in stir fry, as well. Happy you liked the article. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      The store had tons of bags of these shelled for $2. I bought 4 I think... as much as it would have cost for 1 bag. So far I made pralines and sometimes throw a few in my cereal... yum. And I threw some in stir fry the other night. My family loved it. Im glad to know they have fiber. Good article! :)

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Absolutely! Anytime I notice good work I want to share it. Well done!

    • StitchTheDamned profile image
      Author

      StitchTheDamned 4 years ago from Clifton Park, NY

      Thank you so much! A lot of research and time was put into this article. I'm glad to see that its appreciated!

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      This is one of the most detailed hubs on the walnut I've seen thus far. Great job on the listings of it. I honestly didnt know that it had as much in terms of omega 3's as it does. I do take fish oil capsules because I'm on a workout regimen, maybe I could use this to supplement it. Well done and I'm voting up and sharing.