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WALNUT – A NUT WITH WONDERS

As the saying goes, “you are what you eat”. Have you ever observed or wondered that Walnuts do look like a human brain?

Well, astonishingly research has showed that Walnuts are the top nut for brain health.

Let’s dive into the history to know more about this brain food.


History


Walnuts have a rich history dating back thousands of years. Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, dating back to 7000 B.C. The Romans called walnuts Juglans regia, “Jupiter's royal acorn.” Early history indicates that English walnuts came from ancient Persia, where they were reserved for royalty. Walnuts were traded along the Silk Road route between Asia and the Middle East. Caravans carried walnuts to far off lands and eventually through sea trade, spreading the popularity of the walnut around the world. English merchant marines transported the product for trade to ports around the world and they became known as “English Walnuts.” England, in fact, never grew walnuts commercially. Spanish missionaries brought them to California in the 1700s. Today, most of the walnuts in the U.S. are grown in California, but some are grown in the Midwest as well.


Nutrition Facts


Walnuts are made up of 65% fat and about 15% of protein. They’re low in carbs — most of which consist of fiber.

Even though walnuts are rich in fat and calories, studies indicate that they don’t increase obesity risk when replacing other foods in your diet as the portion consumption of walnuts are not much high and also walnuts contain healthy fats like omega3 fats which helps in weight loss too.

One serving of walnuts is 1 ounce, or about 7 walnuts. A serving of walnuts has:

  • 185 calories

  • 4.3 grams of protein

  • 3.9 of carbohydrates

  • 1.9 grams of fiber

  • 0.7 grams of sugar

  • 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat

  • 1.7 grams of saturated fat

  • They also contain a relatively high percentage of the healthy omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This makes up around 8–14% of the total fat content. In fact, walnuts are the only nuts that contain significant amounts of ALA.

Walnut and Brain health


Image source : Google

As it looks like brain, thus it functions too. They have a significantly high concentration of Docosahexanoic acid (DHA), a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. Among other things, DHA has been shown to protect brain health in newborns, improve cognitive performance in adults, and prevent or ameliorate age-related cognitive decline. One study suggested that mothers who get enough DHA have smarter kids. Just a quarter cup of walnuts provides nearly 100% of the recommended daily intake of DHA.

Several studies indicate that eating nuts may improve brain function. They also show that walnuts can help with depression and age-related decline in brain function (A study in older adults linked regular consumption of walnuts with significant memory improvement.


Walnut and Neurological health


As Walnuts contain a relatively high percentage of the healthy omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and ALA has been identified as a potential nutraceutical to protect the brain from stroke, characterized by its pleiotropic effects in neuroprotection, vasodilation of brain arteries, and neuroplasticity. One review highlighted how chronic administration of ALA protects against rodent models of hypoxic-ischemic injury and exerts an anti-depressant-like activity, effects that likely involve multiple mechanisms in brain, and may be applied in stroke prevention. One major effect may be through an increase in mature brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a widely expressed protein in brain that plays critical roles in neuronal maintenance, and learning and memory.

Other health benefits of Walnuts

Walnut and Heart health Image source : Google


Omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is considered especially beneficial for heart health. It also helps reduce inflammation and improve the composition of blood fats. Walnuts are also richer than most other nuts in polyunsaturated fats. The most abundant one is an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. Additional research has found that people with walnuts and walnut oil in their diets have lower resting blood pressure as well as lower blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory.

Walnuts contain a complex mixture of bioactive plant compounds. Some notable plant compounds in walnuts include:


Ellagic acid. This antioxidant is found in high amounts in walnuts, along with other related compounds like ellagitannins. Ellagic acid may reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Catechin. Catechin is a flavonoid antioxidant that may have various health benefits, including promoting heart health.

Melatonin. This neurohormone helps regulate your body clock. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Phytic acid. Phytic acid, or phytate, is a beneficial antioxidant, though it can reduce the absorption of iron and zinc from the same meal — an effect that’s only of concern for those who consumes phytate rich diet.

Walnuts and Diabetes


Image source : Google

A 2013 study published in The Journal of Nutrition revealed that eating walnuts may help reduce the risk of Type-2 diabetes. Walnuts are known to help build resistance for insulin, control blood glucose levels and lower the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. They are rich in dietary fibres. 1 ounce of Walnut contains 1.9 grams of fibre. Fibres take long to breakdown and digest, which ensures slow release of sugar in the bloodstream. Crunchy and delightful walnuts could do wonders for diabetes management, if consumed in moderation.

Walnuts and Knee pain


High in ALA, walnuts have the highest omega-3 content, and researchers studying their effects have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis and thus eventually help in reducing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain.

Image source : Google


Health hazards of Walnut consumption



Image source : Google



Walnut allergy


Walnuts are among the eight most allergenic foods. Symptoms of a walnut allergy are typically severe and can include allergic shock (anaphylaxis), which can be fatal without treatment. Individuals with a walnut allergy need to avoid these nuts completely.


Reduced mineral absorption


Like all seeds, walnuts are high in phytic acid. Phytic acid, or phytate, is a plant substance that impairs the absorption of minerals — such as iron and zinc — from your digestive tract. This only applies to meals that contain high-phytate foods.


Summary


Walnut not just look like brain but has proven health benefits in brain health and also play a significant role in neural health. And its benefits doesn’t stop here, as bioactive compounds of walnuts have been found to be beneficial in heart health and it’s fibre contents help diabetics in maintaining blood sugar. Walnuts also has got potent anti inflammatory properties which helps in reducing arthritis pain and also is heart healthy. But as we say moderation is the key, hence if consumed in excess then walnuts may pose some health threats too. Hence it is better to seek advice from diet expert to know your quantity of walnuts which can fit your diet.

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