The beneficial effect of walnuts on mental activity has been known since ancient Babylon. According to Herodotus, the Babylonian priests forbade the eating of walnuts by the plebeians.
Perhaps the reason for the ban was as follows. The walnut kernel peeled from the shell is similar to the human brain, therefore, it was assumed that from eating walnuts the peasants would become catastrophically clever, and if so, would not the priests become stupider?
The resemblance of the nucleus to the brain misled even such an intelligent Greek as Plato, who in his ‘Dialogues on Atlantis’ wrote that ‘thinking’ nuts escape the pickers by crawling ‘on weak legs’, to secluded places in the crown.
Walnuts – Nutrition facts
Walnuts have a very high energy value and great protein content, also a very high amount of fat. These nuts are also characterized by a sufficient amount of carbs, a small content of sugar, decent fibre content and a low glycemic index which is good for a blood glucose level.
Walnuts – Very good news
Walnuts are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals that will definitely benefit your health in many ways.
1An excellent source of vitamins and minerals
From just 100 grams of walnuts, you already get:
Copper 53%. This mineral promotes heart health. It also helps support bone, nerve and immune system function.
Folic acid 19%. Also known as folate or vitamin B9, folic acid has many important biological functions. A deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy can lead to birth defects.
Phosphorus 42%. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient that is required for the proper growth, development, and function of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs. It is a key component of many important molecules, such as DNA and RNA. It also serves for storing and transferring energy.
Vitamin B6 40%. This vitamin can boost your immune system and support nerve health. A lack of vitamin B6 can cause anaemia.
Manganese 95%. This micronutrient is found in the highest amounts in nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E 17%. Compared to other nuts, walnuts contain high amounts of a special form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol.
2Can benefit brain health
Eating walnuts may help to slow cognitive decline in older people who are at a higher risk. Researchers randomly assigned more than 600 elderly people to either a diet with 15% of calories from walnuts or a diet without walnuts.
Although walnuts had no effect on cognitive function in healthy individuals, brain MRI scans showed that walnuts had a greater impact on individuals with higher odds of cognitive decline, including heavy smokers as well as those with lower baseline neuropsychological test scores.
Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by abnormal cell growth. Walnuts contain several bioactive components that may have anti-cancer properties, including phytosterols, gamma-tocopherol, omega-3 fatty acids, and ellagic acid and related compounds. It has been estimated that diets rich in phytochemicals can significantly reduce cancer risk by as much as 20%.
4Promote a healthy heart with healthy fats
Walnuts are abundant in monounsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid. They contribute to a healthy lipid balance. Bad cholesterol levels can be reduced and good cholesterol levels can be increased by walnut consumption. These nuts are also useful for lowering high blood pressure.
Walnuts have more alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than any other nut. ALA (one of the best omega-3 fatty acids of plant origin) is essential for the human body and is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects. It helps lower cholesterol levels, thereby reducing blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. 1 ounce (28 grams) of nuts contains 2.5g of ALA. Although most nuts contain monounsaturated fats, only walnuts consist mainly of polyunsaturated fats (13 grams out of 18 grams of total fat).
5Good for digestion
Walnuts have a good amount of fibre 6.7 g (0.211 oz) per 100 g. This helps to cleanse the intestines and detoxify the body. They increase stool volume and fight constipation.
By eating walnuts you raise the number of healthy bacteria and other microbes which leads to improvements in your gut health.
Unhealthy microbiota can lead to inflammation in the gut, which increases the risk of obesity, cancer and other chronic diseases. This can be prevented by consuming walnuts. For example, including this nut in your daily diet can increase the number of bacteria that produce butyrate, which is a fat that improves gut health.
6Contain plant compounds tо support health
Walnuts contain a complex mixture of bioactive plant compounds. They are exceptionally rich in antioxidants, which are concentrated in brown peel.
Some notable plant compounds in walnuts include:
Ellagic acid. Large quantities of this antioxidant are found in walnuts, along with other related compounds such as ellagitannins. Ellagic acid may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Catechin. Catechin is a flavonoid antioxidant that can have various health benefits, including promoting heart health.
Melatonin. This neurohormone helps regulate your body clock. It is also a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Phytic acid. Phytic acid, or phytate, is a useful antioxidant, but it can reduce the absorption of iron and zinc from some foods, but this effect only bothers those having an unbalanced diet.
7Improve mood and sleep. At least for men
Eating a handful of walnuts every day can help you get better sleep. It’s all about melatonin.) or ‘sleep hormone’, which is found in abundance in these nuts.
In addition, small portions of walnuts in your daily diet will improve your mood and ease irritation. Male participants, consuming walnuts, experienced improvements in tension (−18.61%), depression (−26.52%), anger (−31.15%), energy (+13.42%) and confusion (−6.35%).
8Boost the metabolism and control weight
We are learning more and more about how important it is to maintain a healthy microbiome – the trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tract. In this regard, walnuts play a pretty significant role.
Not only do they increase the number of beneficial microbes that produce butyric acid (or butyrate, an essential metabolite for intestinal health) but also reduce secondary bile acids.
Despite their high-calorie content, walnuts can be included in your diet. They are high in fibre, protein and fat, which help you to feel full and prevent overeating.
In addition, like other nuts, walnuts are classified as foods with a low hypoglycaemic index, and they are safe for diabetics.
Walnuts – Pay attention
In general, walnuts are considered very healthy, but some people need to avoid them, and here is why:
Walnuts are among the eight most allergenic foods. Symptoms of walnut allergy are usually severe and can include allergic shock (anaphylaxis), which without treatment can be fatal. People with a walnut allergy should avoid these nuts completely.
Like all seeds, walnuts are high in phytic acid.
Phytic acid, or phytate, is a plant substance that impairs the absorption of minerals – such as iron and zinc – from the digestive tract. This only applies to meals that contain foods high in phytate.
People who follow an unbalanced diet rich in phytic acid are at an increased risk of developing mineral deficiencies.
Walnuts. Experiment by Healthypedia
Fun & curious facts about walnuts
Walnuts are the oldest known tree food — they date back to 10,000 BC!
There are more than 4,500 people in California who grow walnuts. Most farms are owned and operated by families who have been in the walnut business for several generations.
Walnut took its name from the Old English word wealhhnutu meaning a foreign nut.
The world record for hand-crushing walnuts in a minute was set by Prabhakar Reddy P in August 2017. The previous year, Muhammed Rashid from Pakistan cracked 181 walnuts against his head in the same amount of time.
Walnuts in the Blue Zones
Nuts are one of the secrets to longevity and are eaten by centenarians in the Blue Zones. In Loma Linda, California, walnuts are an important part of the Adventist diet. There, long-lived locals prepare sautéed beet greens with toasted walnuts.
Let’s sum walnuts up
Walnuts are a great source of vitamins and minerals. These nuts promote heart health, can prevent cancer, ensure brain health and boost your metabolism. Try including them in your diet, they are a real blessing for your health!
Not enough? Here is more from our colleagues!
Join a Healthy Human Being YouTube channel. These guys will tell you what eating just a handful of walnuts can do to your body.
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