These nutty gifts of nature are one of the healthiest foods. Walnuts are edible seeds that grow on trees. Inside the hard shell is a globe shaped seed which looks like a brain like structure. They have been a part of our traditional foods for centuries. Modern science has proven that these nuts are not just normal food with nutrients, but the benefits of its nutritional quotient translates into a bomb shell of health, wellbeing and happiness.
All nuts, nutritionally, are high in fats, good source of fibre and contain vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. So what makes walnuts so special?
Here're health benefits of walnuts:
1. Heart friendly Fats:
Walnuts contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fats amongst all nuts. Omega -3 is protective of the heart. They are found to help lower triglycerides and also positively affect plaque formation in the arteries. American Heart Association has certified walnuts as a part of their heart check program.
Omega -3 fats have been associated with lower LDL (bad cholesterol ) and lower BP numbers. They also have a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Research has shown that in people with high cholesterol, ALA (plant-based omega-3) may reduce C-reactive protein (CRP).
2. Weight and walnuts:
Loaded with calories these nuts are a must-have for weight loss/ management. Nuts are nutrient-dense foods, meaning that even in small amounts, they add a lot of health to your meals. Walnuts contain proteins, fibre, healthy fats- all add to satiety. Adding an ounce daily as a snack ensures controlled hunger and protection from eating nutrient-free calories. You can add the nut calories as a part of daily calorific target.
3. Brain Boosters:
Walnuts can be called the super food for brain. Their structure is a hint to this to. Walnut is a good source of plant omega-3 fats and a variety of polyphenolic compounds that are missing in other nuts. Both omega-3 and polyphenols have strong antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress is one of the important factors for ageing and consumption of walnuts has shown a protection against decline in cognitive functions.
4. Nuts for Depression:
Walnuts have high ALA omega-3 fatty acid content. This has been associated with good brain health. The polyphenolic composition of walnuts differs from other nuts and may have a beneficial effect on the gut brain axis and production of happy hormone serotonin. Walnuts are also rich in tryptophan, which is the main precursor for serotonin. These factors, combined with its positive correlation with cognition may explain why walnut helps alleviate depression symptoms.
5. Fight against Cancer:
Walnuts contain y-tocopherol, a form of Vitamin E associated with protection against cancer. Their rich plant polyphenols are associated with lowering the risk of cancer. Omega-3 works strongly against inflammation and oxidative stress, two important risk factors for cancer.
6. Gut Health:
Importance of gut health for overall health has been underlined by numerous studies. Walnuts have been investigated and found to have a positive effect on the growth of probiotic and butyric acid-producing microbes, hence, supporting gut health. Good gut microbiome is the key to enhanced immunity, brain health, heart health and diabetes control.
Intake of nuts and seeds along with a healthy lifestyle adds quality to your life. Walnuts are special among nuts so ensure that you take 30-40gms/ day or at least 3 times a week.
Let this not be a new year resolution, but real change for health.
Wishing you all a healthy and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.