13 Proven Health Benefits of Walnuts
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To say that walnuts are a nutritious food is a bit of an understatement.
Walnuts provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals — and that’s just the beginning of how they may support your health.
In fact, there’s so much interest in this one nut that for the past 50 years, scientists and industry experts have gathered annually at the University of California, Davis, for a walnut conference discussing the latest walnut health research.
The most common variety of walnut is the English walnut, which is also the most studied type.
Here are 13 science-based health benefits of walnuts.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Walnuts have higher antioxidant activity than any other common nut.
This activity comes from vitamin E, melatonin and plant compounds called polyphenols, which are particularly high in the papery skin of walnuts.
A preliminary, small study in healthy adults showed that eating a walnut-rich meal prevented oxidative damage of “bad” LDL cholesterol after eating, whereas a refined-fat meal didn’t
That’s beneficial because oxidized LDL is prone to build up in your arteries, causing atherosclerosis
Walnuts are an excellent source of antioxidants that can help fight oxidative damage in your body, including damage due to “bad” LDL cholesterol, which promotes atherosclerosis.
2. Super Plant Source of Omega-3s
Walnuts are significantly higher in omega-3 fat than any other nut, providing 2.5 grams per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving.
Omega-3 fat from plants, including walnuts, is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It’s an essential fat, meaning you have to get it from your diet.
According to the Institute of Medicine, adequate intake of ALA is 1.6 and 1.1. grams per day for men and women respectively. A single serving of walnuts meets that guideline.
Observational studies have shown that each gram of ALA you eat per day lowers your risk of dying from heart disease by 10%.
Walnuts are a good source of the plant form of omega-3 fat, which may help reduce heart disease risk.
3. May Decrease Inflammation
Inflammation is at the root of many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, and can be caused by oxidative stress.
The polyphenols in walnuts can help fight this oxidative stress and inflammation. A subgroup of polyphenols called ellagitannins may be especially involved.
Beneficial bacteria in your gut convert ellagitannins to compounds called urolithins, which have been found to protect against inflammation.
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