Walnuts offer a host of benefits due to their nutritious content including healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals. This edible seed has garnered substantial attention from both scientists and industry experts. A walnut conference is held annually at the University of California, Davis, to explore the latest research on walnuts. The English walnut, scientifically known as Juglans regia, is the most widely studied variety and the most prevalent type. Let’s take a look at the myriad health benefits of walnuts.
Rich source of antioxidants
Walnuts boast the highest antioxidant activity among commonly consumed nuts, primarily attributed to vitamin E, melatonin, and polyphenols – these plant compounds are particularly abundant in the thin skin of walnuts. A recent 2022 study involving older, healthy adults demonstrated that consuming a meal rich in walnuts led to a reduction in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The accumulation of LDL cholesterol in arteries can potentially lead to atherosclerosis, a concerning health condition.
Helps to maintain a healthy gut
Research indicates that having a good amount of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms in your gut, known as your gut microbiota, is associated with a healthy gut and overall well-being. Conversely, an imbalanced gut microbiota can contribute to inflammation and various diseases in both your gut and other parts of your body, elevating the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
Decreases the risk of cancer
Numerous studies, both in animals and some in humans, have indicated that the consumption of walnuts may potentially lower the risk of specific types of cancer such as breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. This cancer-protective effect is linked to the abundance of ellagitannins, a type of polyphenol, found in walnuts. Interestingly, certain gut bacteria have the ability to convert these ellagitannins into urolithins, compounds known for their anti-inflammatory properties within the gut.
Helps with depression
Studies have suggested that incorporating walnuts into your diet may have positive effects on mental well-being. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) discovered that individuals who consumed walnuts experienced a 26% reduction in depression scores. Additionally, those who ate other types of nuts also showed an 8% lower depression score when compared to individuals who didn’t consume nuts at all. This suggests that walnuts, in particular, may contribute to a lower prevalence and frequency of depression and potentially enhance concentration levels.
Inflammation, often triggered by oxidative stress, is the underlying factor in numerous diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Walnuts contain polyphenols that can combat oxidative stress and inflammation, with a specific subgroup called ellagitannins playing a potentially significant role.