Why We’re Nuts About Walnuts
At this point, you probably get it. Nuts are really freakin’ good for you. They’re high in fibre. They’re packed with heart-healthy fats. They’re a source of plant-based protein. They’re a healthy anytime snack. And the list goes on and on… So why are we singling out the walnut? A nut is a nut, right? Wrong. While all nuts are gonna be packed with nutritional benefits, we’d like to make the case that the walnut is the king of them all. Here are just a few reasons why.
They’re high in antioxidants.
In fact, walnuts are more packed with antioxidants than any other nut. They come in the form of vitamin E, melatonin and polyphenols (super-healthy micronutrients found in high doses in walnut skins). Why do we want antioxidants in our diets? They help protect your body against free radicals, which can damage cells in your body and lead to everything from inflammation to cancer. Antioxidants are also a crucial part of keeping your immune system running smoothly. In other words, you should get ‘em wherever and whenever you can.
They’re packed with omega-3s
Walnuts are significantly higher in heart-healthy omega-3 fats than any other nut, with 2.5 grams per 1 ounce serving. Considering your recommended daily intake is just 1.1-1.6 grams per day, that is nothing to sneeze at! Also known as alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, plant-based omega-3 is an essential fat that majorly lowers your risk of heart disease and helps keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. ALA is a super rare nutrient in the plant world, so finding a good source of it is a serious win.
They help lower inflammation
The bad news? Inflammation is at the root of health issues from diabetes to cancer. The good news? Study after study shows that your diet is one of the best ways to manage it, and walnuts are one of the best ingredients to have in your arsenal, thanks to the anti-inflammatory benefits of those multi-tasking polyphenols, as well as ALA, magnesium and the amino acid arginine.
They can help lower cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to major heart health issues down the road. But a promising study recently showed that eating a walnut-heavy meal helped prevent the effects of “bad” LDL cholesterol – even more than lowering fat intake. Now that is some good news for your arteries. And another study found that eating just 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day led to a 5% decrease in cholesterol. No wonder we heart walnuts so much!
They can boost your brain power
Ever notice walnuts kinda look like little brains? In ancient times, doctors took this as a sign that were a super brain-beneficial ingredient. And guess what? They were actually right! A recent study found that walnuts helped improve memory and cognitive function. Why? Those magical polyphenols strike once again. Just be warned – you need to eat at least 1 ounce to get the full brain benefit.
Ready to start going nuts? Here are some easy way to work this powerhouse ingredient into your diet.
- Top your favourite grain bowl or salad with chopped, toasted walnuts
- For a hearty breakfast, try plain yogurt or oatmeal with fresh fruit and a handful of crushed walnuts (okay, and maybe a drizzle of honey too)
- Baking cookies, bread or muffins? Stir some chopped walnuts into your batter before baking!
- Swap out olive oil for walnut oil in your favourite dressing or marinade
- Try using roasted walnuts as the base for a homemade trail mix
- For a quick, healthy side, try sauteeing any green veggie and topping with chopped, toasted walnuts