This is it. I’m committed. I’m going to start eating walnuts every day. Raw, maybe some days roasted or soaked walnuts, but definitely minus the salt.
That’s because, as you’re about to find out, the top health benefits of eating walnuts daily are far too convincing for me to keep munching on almonds or pistachios (which have been my favorites for the past year).
You see, I like my nuts. The satisfying crunch, the rich-almost-buttery mouth-feel, and the icing on the cake…Nuts are one of the best superfoods out there, an integral part of the superstar Mediterranean diet, hands-down the best diet for overall health and fitting into skinny jeans.
Whether you’re thinking about the benefits of walnuts for brain, opting for walnuts soaked in water to digest them more easily, even walnuts during pregnancy (absolutely, thanks to their omega-3 fatty acids, high fiber and protein when eating for two), these tasty nuts have a whole roster of good-for-you attributes.
I’m going to give you my 10 top health benefits of eating walnuts daily to get you snacking right. You may even start chopping and grinding them to add to smoothies, salads, stir-fries or your homemade trail mix. Speaking of trail mix, here’s one of my go-to energizing recipes. Remember to buy walnuts fresh. They should be sweet, never bitter.
When it comes to the top health benefits of walnuts, here are 10 good reasons why to eat walnuts every day:
1 You’ll live longer: Walnuts are an amazing longevity food. If you happened to be cast for Survivor (yes, it’s still running), you’d want to hide a stash of walnuts to help you win the immunity challenges and outlast your frenemies.
Here’s proof: In Spain, a longitudinal study of more than 7,000 people over 50 found that those who ate nuts more than three times a week had reduced risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease compared to non-nut eaters. Heart disease and stroke is the No. 1 killer. In this study, overall, nut eaters had a 39 percent lower mortality risk and walnut eaters had a 45 percent lower risk. Just a small handful at least three times a week!
2 They’re great for your heart: Walnut eaters have less risk of heart disease because these nuts, according to researchers from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. When compared to eight other types of nuts, walnuts were found to contain the highest amounts of polyphenols. They’re the compounds linked to reduced heart disease risk from lowering blood cholesterol levels, improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation.
3 Makes your skin glow: Women think great skin is a priority. That’s why we’re in awe of Hollywood’s female A-listers, even if they’d had work done…
Celebrities aside – and while you may have that certain glow when you’re pregnant – aging, gravity, pollution and free radical damage can all take a toll on your skin over the years. A little bronzer on your brow and cheekbones helps, but walnuts are rich in B-vitamins and antioxidants to help protect your skin, and keep it youthful and glowing. Don’t forget to cleanse and moisturize every night, of course, and keep well hydrated by drinking water.
4 They relieve stress: Snack on walnuts and meditate for a few minutes every day. If your mind tends to race and quiet meditation is hard to achieve (my problem), go for the handful of nuts at least! Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that walnuts and walnut oil lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory. The researchers noted that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.
5 They’re loaded with omega-3 fatty acids: This is a big one when it comes to benefits of walnuts for brain health. Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. There’s a body of research touting the importance of a diet rich in omega-3s to counter inflammation. Swap out those 3 p.m. cookie cravings with filling walnuts.
6 They’ll reduce your risk of diabetes: One in every three Americans over the age of 20 already has pre-diabetes, so chances are…
The good news is that type 2 diabetes can easily be prevented with diet, exercise and dropping some weight. Walnuts are showing promise here as a step toward prevention. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health say women who reported eating one ounce (30 g) of nuts at least five times a week reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by almost 30 percent compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts. Why? The mono and polyunsaturated fats in nuts help promote insulin sensitivity. Which brings up to No. 7, a related point.
7 They help with weight loss: Aren’t walnuts and other nuts high-fat, laden with calories that will pack on the pounds? Well, don’t eat them, handful after handful like you would movie popcorn (before you get to the feature film!). Just a small handful per day. They have the good kind of fat that fills you up, the kind your body needs. Add to that, they have filling and energy-providing protein and fiber. Any successful weight management plan must include the “satiety factor” and walnuts can be your best buddy.
8 They’ll help you sleep: This is an important reason why to eat walnuts every day. We need quality sleep to get through our days and protect ourselves from stress and disease. Sleep deprivation is a huge deficit in American culture today, experts warn. Walnuts contain a compound called melatonin, responsible for cuing the body’s sleep cycles. Since melatonin is already synthesized by the body, eating walnuts is like sleep insurance. It increases the blood levels of melatonin to help induce sleep. Convinced you need to start snacking on walnuts right now?!
9 They’re good for your hair: Both sexes worry about thinning hair and losing their youthful beauty. Be honest with yourself. Have you looked at ads for hair transplant or considered hair extensions?
Bring it back to your diet. Walnuts contain biotin – vitamin B7 – that helps strengthen hair, promoting hair growth to a certain extent.
10 They have cancer-fighting powers: Walnuts may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer. In one study, mice that ate the human equivalent of 2.4 ounces of whole walnuts for 18 weeks had notably smaller and slower-growing prostate tumors, compared to the control group that consumed the same amount of fat from other sources.
Another study on mice, from the Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia, found that mice that ate the human equivalent of just two handfuls of walnuts a day cut breast cancer risk in half, and slowed tumor growth by 50 percent.
Arrange 2 cups walnut halves on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the center of a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until toasted, for about 8 minutes. Then combine in an airtight container with 1 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds, 1 cup chopped dried apricots, 1 cup banana chips and ½ cup goji berries. Sometimes I’ll add a bit of shredded unsweetened coconut or some semi-sweet chocolate chips. This makes about 4 cups.
Delicious and filling! And good for you, too. Making it yourself lets you control the ingredients so you don’t end up with extra sweeteners or additives that your body doesn’t need to deal with.
I’ve considered almonds the top nut for health. I’ll won’t abandon them in my desk-side snack rotation, but, as you can see, there are so many top health benefits of walnuts. They are not to be ignored!
Karen Hawthorne is managing editor at Health eTalk and BelMarraHealth.com. Karen has worked for the National Post, Postmedia News, CBC Radio Vancouver, the Edmonton Journal, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and the Cobourg Daily Star, reporting on health news and lifestyle trends for over 15 years.
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