Walnuts should never be missing on our tables! Yes, because walnuts are a precious source of unsaturated fatty acids, such as alpha linolenic acid with an anti-inflammatory action, of proteins, vitamins, such as vitamin E and group B, minerals, such as selenium, magnesium and phosphorus, fibers and antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic compounds (Pparmi et al, Nutrients, 2016). These substances give walnuts the important health properties proven by scientific studies, but let's understand better.
Walnuts, heart and diabetes
Regular consumption of walnuts is associated with a 15% reduction in developing cardiovascular disease. It was observed that the intake of 30 grams of walnuts per day was able, in two years, to significantly reduce bad cholesterol, which decreased by 3.6%, total cholesterol, by 4.4%, and intermediate density lipoproteins, very similar in action to bad LDL cholesterol, reduced by almost 17% (Rajaram et al, Circulation, 2021). These results can be considered modest but it should be noted that they have been observed in people with normal cholesterol levels. Better results were observed in people with ascertained hypercholesterolemia, resulting in a reduction in bad LDL cholesterol by 7.4% and total cholesterol by 11% (Sabate et al, Arch Intern Med, 2010). Not only that, eating nuts reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Guasch Ferre et al, J Nutr, 2021).
Walnuts and the brain
Walnuts improve brain functioning, concentration and memory. The explanation is that walnuts increase oxylipins in the brain, which are molecules capable of counteracting neuroinflammation (Eckert et al, Curr Den Nutr, 2020 - Esselun et al, Neuromolecular Med, 2021). Walnuts also seem to have a protective action on mood thanks to their content in neuroprotective compounds, such as vitamin E, folate, melatonin and polyphenols. It has been observed that the consumption of walnuts is associated with an improvement in mood in healthy people without a diagnosis of depression (Pparmi et al, Nutrients, 2016).
Walnuts and body weight
One might think that the introduction of walnuts, which also contain fats, into the diet could impact body weight. However, this is not the case as the fats contained in food are not all the same. In particular, unsaturated fatty acids, of the type found in walnuts, are considered protective and beneficial, capable of counteracting the weight gain that often occurs over the years (Liu et al, J Nutr, 2018). In fact, it has been observed that those who have a habit of eating walnuts are less likely, in the long run, to gain weight and develop obesity. In short, walnuts contribute to the maintenance of body weight (Bes Rastrollo et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2009).
Walnuts and microbiota
Studies have observed that the consumption of walnuts is also able to act on the intestinal microbiota, favoring the development of good bacteria, including those that release butyrate, a substance with an anti-inflammatory action (Holscher et al, J Nutr , 2018).