Walnut Benefits Explained: What Are The Health Benefits Of Walnuts?
- What Are Walnuts? Where Do Walnuts Come From?
- Cancer-Fighting Effects Of Walnuts Explained
- Walnuts For Weight Loss & Metabolism Explained
- Walnuts For Heart Health Explained
- Walnuts For Skin & Hair Improvement Explained
- Walnuts For Male Reproductive Health Explained
- How To Incorporate Walnuts Into Your Diet
You may know these as an easy snack, or a crunchy topping for a cookie or salad. That’s right; I’m talking about walnuts! And there’s a lot more to these little seeds than you might think. While you might enjoy snacking on them every so often, walnuts are more than just your average snack. They’re filling you up with a whole lot of nutrients that benefit all areas of your health and body.
What Are Walnuts? Where Do Walnuts Come From?
The walnut, which is, in fact, a drupe rather than a nut, originated in Persia. Being drupes, walnuts have a husk, as well as a hard outer shell. Walnuts are great for your health, skin, and hair – even the brown seed coat (protective outer coating) of the seeds contains a lot of antioxidant properties.
There are two kinds of walnuts: the Persian walnut commonly referred to as the English walnut, and the black walnut, the latter of which originated in North America. Guess which kind is the type you buy in your supermarket? Nope, it’s not the black walnut; even though you would think so because they are native to North America.
The walnuts you see in local stores are most likely going to be the English walnut since the shells are easier to crack and they are more visually appealing. These nuts were brought to England in the Middle Ages – and thus became known as ‘English walnuts’.
Cancer-Fighting Effects Of Walnuts Explained
Ask anyone, even someone who is thankfully in optimal health and not suffering from any health issues, to say the name of the first life-threatening disease that comes to their head. Nine times out of ten, they’re likely to say “cancer”. This is because 39.6% of people are diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. Considering that there are around 7.6 billion people in the world, 39.6% of that comes to 3,009,600,000. That’s a shocking amount of people.
Due to the terrible statistics, medicine and science are doing everything humanly possible to try and find a cure for cancer. Many times, they are thankfully successful at saving a patient’s life – but there are still many being diagnosed with cancer. Many are still dying from the disease.
People have begun to start looking at natural ingredients as a way to help with cancer. To try and prevent it even in the first place. One of the foods tested that have shown cancer-fighting properties are walnuts.
It’s not overly clear why, but studies done on mice with cancerous tumours have shown that even in small doses, walnuts are powerful tools in making tumours shrink and slowing the progression of the disease, particularly in prostate and breast cancer. Walnuts contain many nutrients that are believed to help fight against cancer, such as:
● Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a strong anti-inflammatory agent; inflammation is a serious cause for cancer progression. ALA is not found in any other nut besides the walnut.
● Antioxidants, which fight against harmful cells and free radicals (which help cancer to spread).
● Omega-3 fatty acids – studies have shown that while omega-3 certainly helps fight cancer, its effects are better when combined with other compounds found in walnuts. Omega-3 on its own does not have the same cancer-fighting properties as walnuts, proving that omega-3 is not the only compound in walnuts fighting against the disease. It is also anti-inflammatory.
● Phytosterols – molecules which slow down and fight against cancer.
● Melatonin – while you might recognize this as the hormone that helps you sleep, you may not know that sufficient sleep is vital to fighting off infection and boosting your immune system, which also helps fight against cancer development.
● Gallic acid – a specific antioxidant found in the seed coat, which kills cancer.
More research is certainly in order, as studies have so far only been conducted on mice, but the results have been undeniably positive. As modern medicine continues to develop, so does the hope that a cure for cancer is on its way.
— WebMD (@WebMD) November 25, 2017
Walnuts For Weight Loss & Metabolism Explained
There’s a common misconception that nuts are not a dieter’s friend, due to their high-fat content. In reality, stay away from those sugary cakes and ice cream – but not nuts! (For the sake of using a relatable term, I am referring to walnuts as nuts, since most people don’t call them drupes.)
In studies done comparing people including walnuts in their diet to people not eating walnuts, the people who included walnuts in their diet lost about 8 percent of their original weight! And this result was after eating only one-and-a-half handfuls of walnuts per day.
Walnuts contain polyunsaturated fats (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, are the ones found in walnuts), which are not only great for your heart, but can also stimulate weight loss. While it’s true that the calorie count is high – a quarter cup of walnuts is around 200 calories – the omega-3 fatty acids, fibre content and protein in walnuts not only help you feel less hungry for longer, but also stimulate the right insula – the part of your brain that controls the feeling of “I’m hungry and I want to eat (insert favourite food here) now!” and restrains you from giving in to temptation.
They’re a great choice for helping to keep your metabolism going because of all their essential nutrients, such as calcium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, and selenium. So if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, eating a handful of walnuts a day is likely to help you with your goal – not go against it.
Walnuts For Heart Health Explained
You probably won’t be surprised to hear this, but walnuts are great for cardiovascular health, too.
● The antioxidants found in walnuts also make them a prime choice for keeping your heart in the best of health. They protect your heart against damage by free radicals, which can cause heart disease.
● Walnuts reduce inflammation (another cause of heart disease), and the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats they contain help to lower your cholesterol levels. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a common cause for heart disease since they cause plaque to build up in the arteries, which slows down the blood flow to and from the heart.
● Vitamin E is another helpful nutrient to help fight against heart disease; it too prevents plaque buildup in the arteries.
● And finally, eating walnuts can make your artery walls more flexible, which prevents blood clotting that can cause a heart attack. This is due to the L-arginine found in walnuts that your body converts into nitric oxide, which lowers your blood pressure and lets your blood flow more easily without clotting.
Walnuts For Skin & Hair Improvement Explained
There’s a lot of hype these days about how your diet and the ingredients in your daily beauty treatments affect the appearance of your skin and hair. Everyone wants soft, supple, youthful skin, and healthy, shiny hair – but you have to make sure that the things you eat and use on your body are helping with these goals.
As you grow older, the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines are common annoyances. But did you know that eating walnuts can reduce wrinkles, and slow down the ageing process of your skin? (No, they can’t make you turn 21 again. But they can help you look your most youthful self!)
The Vitamin B that your body receives from eating walnuts works great at reducing stress – a common cause for early wrinkles, and also premature grey hairs. The Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, also helps to fight against free radicals that are responsible for skin damage – which manifests itself in the form of ageing symptoms.
Even if wrinkles are not your concern, your skin can still benefit from walnuts, especially in oil form. Rubbing warm walnut oil under your eyes as part of your daily skincare routine can help get rid of dark under eye circles and puffiness around your eyes. It also works as a wonderful natural moisturizer, especially if you have dry skin (like me!).
This is mostly thought to be because of the linolenic acid (Vitamin F) found in walnut oil which softens your skin and which can also help fight against acne. And if you have rough skin patches (like those found on your elbow), ground walnut can help to make your skin softer. The omega-3 fatty acids that we mentioned before removing toxins from damaged skin cells, and also attract moisture from the air and keep it locked in your skin, resulting in plumper, glowing skin. Healthy fats are a good tool against breakouts (yay!) due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Protein, which is essential for the healing of skin (like when you get a cut), is also found in walnuts, as are minerals like copper, zinc and iron, all of which aid in collagen production (the stuff that makes your skin healthy and flexible). And potassium is another mineral contained in walnuts that does wonders for your skin – it helps protect your skin against problems like sagging or puffy skin and bloating.
Healthy skin commonly goes together with healthy hair, and eating walnuts won’t just benefit your skin, it will benefit your hair as well. And when it comes to nuts and hair, walnuts are said to be the best nuts you can eat. Walnuts help keep your hair strong and healthy because they contain:
● Vitamin B7 and selenium, which fight against hair loss and keep your hair strong and healthy.
● Fatty acids and potassium, which protect your hair against sun damage, and also work to keep your scalp nourished, preventing uncomfortable dandruff.
● Essential oils, which help with your blood circulation to the scalp, fighting off infections, and keeping your scalp hydrated.
● Keratin (an essential protein for hair) and metals like zinc and iron.
● Vitamin E, which naturally strengthens hair.
● L-arginine, which also helps to ease blood flow to hair follicles.
Walnut oil can be applied to your hair on its own, or together with other natural oils, such as coconut or olive oil. Mixing it together with other oils can bring even better, shinier and sleeker results.
Walnuts For Male Reproductive Health Explained
Your dietary choices not only keep your body healthy and looking good, but can also affect your ability to have children. When people think of infertility, most automatically think of women – but in 40% of cases, the male is either wholly or partly responsible.
Because of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3, which is not found in any other nut), men who eat 2.5 ounces of walnuts a day have shown stronger, better formed, more mature sperm that swim better and live longer – all of which are essential for fertility.
In addition, there are loads of other nutrients in walnuts that improve overall sperm quality, such as lipids and folate (which regulates the number of chromosomes in sperm). And because walnuts contain antioxidant properties (like selenium), they protect sperm cells against free radical damage. While more research needs to be done on the effects of walnuts for male fertility, the research available definitely looks promising.
How To Incorporate Walnuts Into Your Diet
Now that you know all (or at least many) of the amazing benefits walnuts can have for your health, you might want to incorporate them into your regular diet. But how to add them to your food if you don’t have time for extra fuss?
Here are some easy ideas for adding walnuts into your daily meals so you can access all the nutrients they have to offer:
● Enjoy them as a refreshing topping to your favourite leafy-green salad.
● Throw a handful of fresh walnuts into your morning yoghurt for added taste.
● Add walnuts and a bit of cinnamon to fruit cups for a healthy, satisfying dessert.
● Sprinkle them over pasta for a fun twist to a classic recipe.
● Top your pancakes with a bit of honey and a sprinkling of walnuts.
Whether you’re eating breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack; savoury or sweet; there is a way to include walnuts! They’re versatile, ready-to-eat, and add that final ‘wow’ factor to your dish.
I don’t know if I convinced you to eat more walnuts with this article, but I certainly convinced myself! With all the benefits they offer, it’s a wonder more people don’t eat them often! They’re easy and can be eaten on the go, or added to a host of different foods. So go out and buy yourself some walnuts! You’ll find yourself snacking less on unhealthy chips and cookies and you can feel good knowing all the ways your body is benefiting from your small, delicious snack.