11 Proven Benefits of Walnuts

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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The health benefits of walnuts include reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body, prevention of inflammation, improvement in metabolism, weight management, and control of diabetes. Other important health benefits of walnuts include improving brain health and acting as a mood booster.

What are Walnuts?

Walnuts are edible seeds from the trees of Juglans genus. They are round, single-seeded fruits of the walnut tree. The fruit and seed of walnut are enclosed in a thick, inedible husk. The shell of the fruit that encloses the kernel is hard and two-halved.

Walnuts have a delicious taste and crunchy texture, which is why they are used in cookies, cakes, granola, cereals, energy bars, and the ever-popular banana walnut bread. Ground walnuts and flour are also used for baking. Walnut oil is a rich emollient and is known for its anti-aging properties.

The nuts have always been considered as ‘brain food’, perhaps because the surface structure of the walnut has a crinkly appearance like that of the brain. Due to this reason, they have been considered as a symbol of intelligence, leading to the belief that they actually increase one’s intellect.

While this is not exactly true, recent studies have proven that the consumption of these seeds does help in promoting brain function. There are two types; black walnut and the brown variety. We shall be talking about the brown walnut in detail.

Watch Video: 6 Great Benefits Of Walnuts

Nutrition Facts

Nuts, walnuts, glazed
Serving Size :
Water [g]6.28
Energy [kcal]500
Protein [g]8.28
Total lipid (fat) [g]35.71
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]47.59
Fiber, total dietary [g]3.6
Sugars, total [g]32.14
Calcium, Ca [mg]71
Iron, Fe [mg]1.29
Potassium, K [mg]232
Sodium, Na [mg]446
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]3.57
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]5.36
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]25
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Nutritional Value of Walnuts

According to the USDA Nutrition Data, they are a rich source of vitamins like vitamin C, B vitamins ( vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate), vitamin E, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc.

Walnuts are 65% fat by weight and 15% protein. They are richer than most nuts in polyunsaturated fats and have a relatively high amount of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Walnuts are particularly rich in an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid.

Walnuts also contain other essential minerals such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, as well as phytosterols. They are a good source of dietary fiber. They are rich sources of antioxidants like ellagic acid, catechin, melatonin, and phytic acid. Walnuts are also considered as ‘power food’ since they are believed to improve body stamina.

Health Benefits of Walnuts

Let’s find out the major health benefits of walnuts.

Improve Heart Health

According to NIH walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that help improve heart health. Fresh raw walnuts are rich in amino acid l-arginine,  and monounsaturated fatty acids (72%) like oleic acid. It also contains EFAs like linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and arachidonic acids. The inclusion of these nuts in any diet helps prevent coronary heart diseases by favoring a healthy lipid supply.

A study published in Metabolism suggests that consuming walnuts lowers the LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases the level of HDL (good) cholesterol. Researchers at the University of Munich Medical Center, Germany found that consuming walnuts also reduced ApoB levels, a marker used to evaluate the risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Weight Management

Walnuts are one of those nuts that helps you feel full, which means that it increases satiety. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that people who consumed shakes containing walnuts had an increased level of fullness during the day as compared to people who had placebo shakes. The rich source of protein and fiber makes it a healthy snacking option, especially for vegetarians.

Walnuts on a wooden table

Boost Bone Health

Essential fatty acids, in walnuts, secure the bone health of the body. They increase calcium absorption and deposition while reducing urinary calcium excretion.

Brain Health

Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help improve memory and focus. Omega-3 fatty acids coupled with iodine and selenium ensure optimum functioning of the brain. These nuts are included in the Mediterranean diet and they are also known to give relief from cognitive disorders like dementia and epilepsy.

Antioxidant Power

Walnuts rank second in the list of ‘antioxidant-rich’ foods after blackberries. The rare powerful antioxidants such as quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin present in walnuts have remarkable free-radical scavenging power. These antioxidants also help prevent liver damage due to chemicals.

Improve Metabolism

Walnut, along with EFAs, provide minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium to the body. These minerals help contribute to metabolic activities like growth and development, sperm generation, digestion, and nucleic acid synthesis.

Control Diabetes

People suffering from diabetes can have walnuts on a regular basis without any significant weight gain since they contain a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Researchers say that the intake of nuts is inversely proportional to the risk of developing type-II diabetes.

Cleanse Digestive System

This superfood helps to clean the internal digestive tract, aiding in detoxification by removal of toxins and waste. It also cures constipation. Lead researcher Lauri Byerley, associate professor at the Louisiana State University in the US, said in her research report that walnuts help the gut and have prebiotic properties. Eating walnuts every day increased LactobacillusRuminococcus, and Roseburia which helped the gut function better. 

Improve Male Fertility

Walnut has a positive impact on male fertility by improving sperm quality, quantity, vitality, and motility. This was confirmed by a study published in the Biology of Reproduction journal led by Wendie Robbins from the Fielding School of Public Health, University of California.

Health benefits of walnut - infographic

Reduce Inflammation

The polyphenolic compounds and phytochemical substances found in walnuts reduce the effects of inflammation in the body.

Pregnant Women

The rich source of vitamin B-complex present in roasted unsalted walnuts is essential for fetal growth. Pregnant mommies are you’ll listening!

Regulate Sleep

This nut makes melatonin, a hormone that helps induce and regulate sleep, and is present in the bio-available form in them. In a research report, Dr. Russel Reiter, The University of Texas Health Science Center, said that laboratory rats who were fed walnuts showed an increase in blood melatonin concentrations as compared to rats who were fed a controlled diet without the nuts. So, it’s best to add walnuts to your dinner dishes to ensure a good, restful sleep.

Mood Booster

Lack of omega-3 fatty acids, provided by walnuts, causes hyperactivity, irritability, and tantrums. Supplementing a child’s diet with these nuts compensates the deficit in EFAs and alleviates their mood. This is even applicable to people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), who are battling depression and stress after a trauma.

Skin Care

The vitamin E present in walnut helps in maintaining and protecting the skin from free radicals that are harmful in nature. It also helps in preventing wrinkles and dry skin. Regular use of walnuts also lightens the dark circles. Walnut scrubs act as a natural exfoliator and help keep the skin young and fresh.

Astringent Properties

Walnut oils have significant astringent properties. Toasted walnut oil has a rich, nutty flavor that helps bring aroma and flavor to the food. This flavor gives a pleasant taste, but only when it is used in moderation. It is used as a carrier/base oil in various therapies like aromatherapy, and massage therapy, as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.

Boost Immunity

Regular consumption of natural shelled walnuts helps in building a strong immune system, which can prevent the onset of various diseases. The rich source of antioxidants is responsible for this benefit.

Hair Care

Walnuts are also responsible for healthy hair as they strengthen hair follicles and makes scalp dandruff free. It also provides thicker, longer and stronger hair. You could also use its husk as a natural highlighter.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections on the skin or inside the body, black helps you get rid of it all.

Side Effects

On average, 7-9 walnuts are considered safe for consumption. However, if you eat the nuts in excess, there are some side effects, which are as follows:

  • Allergy: Overconsumption may result in a range of allergic reactions from minor to lethal.
  • Digestive issues: Too much consumption of walnut may lead to nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, and more.
  • Weight gain: Although it is a source of good fats, taking too much of this nut can make your weight rise like nuts!
  • Pregnancy and lactation: Expecting and nursing women are advised to consume in prescribed amounts only. If you desire to increase its dosage, do consult your doctor.

Quick Serving Tips

Walnuts can be integrated into your diet to gain from all the associated health benefits. A few ways to add them to your meal are as follows:

  • Add chopped nuts to chicken and fish right before cooking them.
  • Ground the nuts and use the powder on sandwiches, salads, or any other dish.
  • Add chopped walnuts to desserts for a nutty flavor.
  • Add it to yogurt and berries to make a healthy dessert.
  • Roast the nuts for a healthy snack option.
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve is a health and wellness enthusiast and started working on Organic Facts since 2012 and is currently responsible for managing it. She follows naturopathy and believes in healing with foods. She is currently pursuing Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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