The Walnut: Brain Food, Heart Food, Total Body Health Food

The walnut is considered “brain food” because its wrinkled appearance resembles the brain’s structure. According to ancient wisdom, one of the most significant benefits of walnut nutrition is the ability to keep the brain healthy. In modern times, several studies have shown that the walnut is indeed brain food.

A walnut is a rounded, single-seeded stone fruit. The hard shell contains the meat, which is made up of two halves, separated by a partition. Walnut can be eaten raw, but it is also a popular baking ingredient. The flesh is high in tannins, which give walnuts their slightly bitter, dry taste.

The walnut is considered “brain food” because its wrinkled appearance resembles the brain’s structure. According to ancient wisdom, one of the most significant benefits of walnut nutrition is the ability to keep the brain healthy. In modern times, several studies have shown that the walnut is indeed brain food.

Walnut Nutrition

Walnut is rich in polyunsaturated fats, omega-6 fatty acid, and omega-3 fatty acid (ALA). The type of omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, however, are not the same kind of omega-3s found in fish. Most studies that have highlighted all the remarkable benefits of omega-3s involved the two omega-3 fats found in fish: EPA and DHA. Researchers recommend that you keep fish such as salmon in your diet because the omega-3 in walnut isn’t a substitute for the omega-3s found in fish.

Here’s why: the body can transform ALA (the type of omega-3 in walnuts) into EPA and DHA, but the degree of conversion appears to be unreliable and restricted. For this reason, experts recommend that you consume all three types of omega-3.

It is crucial to eat a variety of foods that contain omega-3 for optimal benefits. Walnuts provide the body with plenty of vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Walnut is also an excellent source of dietary fiber and is rich in antioxidants.

Walnut for Brain Health

The omega-3 found in walnuts supports brain function on different levels. Research shows that low levels of omega-3 fats contribute to depression as well as other mental disorders. Given the high levels of omega-3 contained in walnuts, it’s safe to say that walnuts may support mood and mental health. A study on the effects of walnut consumption on mood in young adults showed that walnuts were able to improve mood in healthy, non-depressed males.

The omega-3 fats contained in walnuts also help to create the lining of cells, improving the communication and movement among neurotransmitters. Low levels of omega-3 can lead to anxiety, chronic stress, cravings, fatigue, and mood swings. Several studies have demonstrated that walnuts can also improve memory and slow aging. Researchers evaluated the effects of walnuts on learning and memory in mice. Walnut was given orally to rats for a period of 28 days, and the results showed improvements in learning and memory. Other studies show that the polyphenolic compounds found in walnut reduce the oxidant and inflammatory load on brain cells and can help improve interneuronal signaling.

Other Health Benefits of Walnuts

Walnut doesn’t just improve brain health, it can also have a positive impact on other vital organs and prevent diseases.

The walnut is considered “brain food” because its wrinkled appearance resembles the brain’s structure. According to ancient wisdom, one of the most significant benefits of walnut nutrition is the ability to keep the brain healthy. In modern times, several studies have shown that the walnut is indeed brain food.

Heart

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in walnuts can help lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, high levels of which can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack. The results of several studies on the cardioprotective effect of nut consumption revealed that the risk of coronary heart disease was 37% lower for those consuming nuts more than four times per week compared to those who never or rarely consumed nuts.

Researchers claim that people suffering from diabetes can have walnuts on a regular basis without risks. In clinical trials, nuts did not show effects on glucose and insulin, but they had a beneficial effect on lipid profile. Studies conducted on patients with type 2 diabetes showed that the inclusion of walnuts in the context of the total diet helped achieve optimal fat intake proportions without negative effects on total fat or energy intakes.

Weight

According to a study conducted in Asia, nuts are one of the most energy-dense foods. They are associated with elevated resting energy expenditure, and in trials that compared weight loss using diets including or excluding nuts, the diets that included nuts contributed to greater weight loss.

Another study revealed that women who never or rarely ate nuts were at higher risk of gaining weight over an eight-year period than those who consumed nuts two times a week or more. Based on these studies, researchers recommend that nut consumption replace the intake of unhealthy snacks or desserts rich in trans fats and refined carbohydrates.

Walnuts have compounds that burn belly fat—and, thanks to the high levels of fatty acids and some protein, they contribute to a sensation of satiety. Research on walnut consumption also showed promising results in the treatment of overweight patients. Overweight and obese men and women were randomly assigned to a standard reduced-energy-density diet or a walnut-enriched reduced-energy diet. The results showed that the walnut diet promoted greater weight loss compared to the standard reduced-energy-density diet. The walnut-enriched diet also improved blood pressure!

Bones

Walnut is an excellent source of minerals, and the mineral copper is especially important for bone health. Severe copper deficiency may contribute to lower bone mineral density and risk of osteoporosis, which is a condition in which bones become thinner and less dense. A high intake of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, together with low sodium intake, is associated with protection against bone demineralization.

Copper also plays a key role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin. Without this mineral, the body cannot replace damaged connective tissue or the collagen that makes up the bones. Low levels of copper and other minerals, such as manganese, can lead to a variety of diseases, including joint dysfunction. Studies show that trace minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, and manganese can help prevent osteoporosis.

Cancer

Research revealed that the polyphenolic compounds and phytochemical substances found in walnuts reduce the effects of inflammation in the body. These anti-inflammatory properties also benefit immune function and can help prevent cancer formation.

Studies conducted on mice showed that walnuts have the potential for cancer prevention thanks to several nutrients working together. In these experiments, walnuts were added to the diet of mice, and the results showed that the walnut-containing diet inhibited the growth rate of human breast cancers implanted in mice. The walnut-containing diet also reduced the number of mammary gland tumors, and the reduction in mammary gland tumors was greater with whole walnuts than with a diet containing the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids, supporting the idea that multiple components in walnuts acting together have the ability to impact cancer growth and reduce cancer risk.

Pregnancy and Growth

The nutrients contained in walnuts, such as protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium, are crucial for developing brain and body; therefore experts recommend that pregnant women, new mothers, and young children eat walnuts regularly.

Manganese, in particular, is an essential mineral for growth, reproductive health, wound healing, and brain development. The results of animal studies showed that maternal feeding with walnuts improved learning skills and memory. The minerals found in walnuts can also help metabolic activities like growth and development, digestion, and nucleic acid synthesis.

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