Although tree nuts boast an impressive array of health benefits, few Americans—about just 5 percent—consume them on a regular basis. Walnuts, arguably the most-studied of all the tree nuts, provide no shortage of those health-boosting powers. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, these tasty tree nuts can protect your heart and even help prevent cancer and diabetes. Discover the health benefits of walnuts by adding these nutrient-packed nuts to your daily diet!
Walnuts contain a number of heart-healthy compounds: potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids and more. Potassium, an electrolyte, plays a crucial role in heart function by managing muscle contraction of the heart. Along with calcium and magnesium, potassium also helps regulate blood pressure. Vitamin E helps prevent plaque from building up in arteries. Omega 3 fatty acids provide many heart-healthy benefits, including lowering blood pressure and high cholesterol and preventing heart disease.
Thanks to its high number of antioxidants (walnuts have twice as many antioxidants as other nuts), walnuts provide a measure of protection against cancer development, specifically prostate and breast cancers. A recent study from Marshall University found that eating a daily dose of walnuts (2 ounces) can reduce the growth of breast tumors by about half.
Walnuts can help improve or prevent diabetes on a number of fronts. According to a recent study, adding walnuts to a daily diet improved endothelial function, or the ability of blood vessels to dilate when they should, in diabetics. Walnuts also help reduce problems associated with metabolic syndrome—a state that often signals diabetes—such as high blood pressure and obesity, without causing weight gain. Some studies have even shown walnuts to help reduce abdominal adiposity, or the deposits of fat around the mid-section.
High in fiber, protein and healthy unsaturated fat, walnuts make a great snack. They’re also a good source of manganese and copper. Like all nuts, however, walnuts are high in calories, so eat them in moderation. The Mayo Clinic suggests eating nuts in place of sources of saturated fats, such as meats, eggs and dairy. To best derive the health benefits of walnuts, eat them whole. Although walnuts’ skin can taste a little bitter, about 90 percent of tannins and flavonoids in walnuts are found in the skin.
Walnuts make a tasty addition to a number of foods. Enjoy the many health benefits of walnuts with these dishes:
Celery Root, Apple and Walnut Salad
Bruschetta with Red Pepper Purée and Toasted Walnuts
Applesauce, Carrot and Walnut Mini Muffins
Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Walnuts
Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart with Walnuts
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.