The walnut is the most widely-consumed nut in the world and is extremely rich in health benefits. This single-seeded stone fruit is of great help for our health and wellbeing, but how many walnuts a day should we eat and, most importantly, do they have any side-effects?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the claim for food labels that “eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
But what are the reasons to eat walnuts every day?
10 health benefits of walnuts
#1 – Help normalize cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular diseases
Walnuts are among those valuable foods that help prevent from suffering from cardiovascular diseases, because eating walnuts daily helps reducing LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol). This is due the fact that walnuts contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and vegetal sterols, which have a key role in keeping under control LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides.
What is more, walnuts are extremely rich in arginine, an amino acid facilitating blood vessels dilatation and helping prevent clots.
#2 – Reduces the risk of suffering from diabetes and respiratory diseases
Several international studies have shown that eating walnuts is effective when it comes to preventing and treating diabetes and respiratory diseases.
Walnuts have a low blood sugar index and are rich in vitamin B7, which is essential to our body and fundamental to preventing and curing diabetes.
#3 – Effectively supports fertility and pregnancy
Once more due to the fact they contain vitamin B7, walnuts effectively support female fertility, because they may help improve ovulation and even fertility in polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Eating walnuts in pregnancy helps complete the vitamin and Omega-3 requirements, necessary for the fetus development and growth.
#4 – Essential to healthy prostate and male fertility
Not only are walnuts extremely valuable for women, but for men too. It has to be pointed out that the polyunsaturated acid fats walnuts contain help protect sperm cells and improve the quality and mobility of spermatozoa.
But there’s more than that. Walnuts are also extremely rich in zinc, an essential mineral to the health of prostate.
#5 – Help prevent cancers
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids that protect against cancer. Eating walnuts every day may help prevent several types of cancers: breast, prostate, colon etc.
#6 – Act as a support when under physical and mental stress
When we are under extreme stress, our blood pressure tends to rise. In this case, eating walnuts, especially during prolonged stressful periods, may help normalize blood pressure. Magnesium and B group vitamins boost our immune system and counteract mental fatigue.
#7 – Help normalize body weight
Even though walnuts are quite caloric, it has been shown that eating walnuts moderately may help prevent obesity and promote weight loss. Walnuts are rich in proteins and fiber – both effectively supporting weight loss.
#8 – Support the brain and the nervous system
Walnuts have always been considered as ‘Brain Food’, perhaps because the surface structure of the walnut has a crinkly appearance like that of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants nourish nerve cells, improve their functions and may even help prevent learning disabilities, depression, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Eating walnuts every day may also improve our mood and memory.
#9 – Helpful in boosting immune system
Walnuts are a treasure trove of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (zinc and copper) working as immune system boosters.
#10 – Source of protein in vegetarian and vegan diets
Because of their fair protein contents (24.9 g per each 100 g) walnuts may effectively cover for animal protein intake.
How many walnuts to eat a day?
The amount of fat, calories, and carbohydrate content found in walnuts is about 18 grams, 190 calories, and 4 grams, respectively per 1 ounce (about 30 grams). Therefore, it is believed that walnut consumption may result in weight gain. However, research conducted by Sabaté et al. (2005) at the Loma Linda University, California, USA have shown that walnut consumption of about 35 grams per day did not result in any significant weight gain among tested individuals over a period of 1 year.
Walnuts are extremely rich in valuable elements and are essential for the good functioning of our body, but they are quite caloric as well (612 Kcal per 100 g). Yet it is enough to eat 20-30 g (about 1 ounce) of walnuts a day (that’s around 6 walnuts), if included in a well-balanced diet and in an active lifestyle, in order to take advantage of all of the health benefits mentioned above. If you don’t want to gain weight, you should eat walnuts in place of some foods or snacks. Just replace your traditional snacks with walnuts or eat them in the morning as part of the breakfast.
Side effects of walnuts
1 – You should not eat walnuts if you are allergic to nickel or to walnuts themselves.
2 – You should not eat walnuts if you have kidney stones, because walnuts contain a large amount of calcium oxalate.
A handful of walnuts a day may help battle and prevent lots of diseases. Supplementing our diet with this superfood is a perfect way to give extra support to our physical and mental wellbeing.
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