Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. When it comes to health benefits, walnuts definitely are not a hard nut to crack. This delicious nut is rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E. Nuts in general are high in plant sterols and fat-but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 fatty acids-the good fats).
Omega 3 is a protective fat the body cannot manufacture. Walnut’s concentration of omega 3s has many potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection, to the promotion of better cognitive function, to anti-inflammatory benefits helpful to asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. In addition, walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties. More than a decade of scientific evidence shows that incorporating walnuts in a healthy diet reduces the risk of heart disease by improving blood vessel elasticity and plaque accumulation. Omega 3 has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.
Walnuts have often been thought of as a “brain food”, not only because of the wrinkled brain-like appearance of their shells, but because of their high concentration of omega-3 fats. Your brain is more than 60% structural fat. In order for your brain cells to function properly, this structural fat needs to be primarily the omega-3 fats such as those found in walnuts.
Melatonin, a powerful antioxidant, has also been discovered in walnuts, in a bio-available form. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is involved in inducing and regulating sleep. Melatonin has been shown to help improve sleep for night shift workers and people suffering from jet lag. Maintaining a healthy level of this hormone is important for everyone over the age of 40 since the amount of melatonin produced by the human body decreases with age.
Studies show that enjoying just four walnuts a day significantly increased blood levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids and alpha linolenic acid. This proves even a very simple change in diet can have a highly beneficial and lasting effect on our health. Boosting your body’s supply of omega 3 fatty acids couldn’t be any easier. Just add a few walnuts to your morning cereal or daily salad or grab a handful for an afternoon snack.
In fact, people who eat nuts at least twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eats nuts. Study authors concluded, “Frequent nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of weight gain. These results support the recommendation of nut consumption as an important component of a cardio protective diet and also allay fears of possible weight gain.” So, don’t let concerns about gaining weight prevent you from enjoying the delicious taste and many health benefits of nuts.