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The Health Benefits of Walnuts
Walnuts (Juglans) were considered food for the gods in ancient Rome and named Juglans regia (Jupiter’s royal acorn ) in honor of Jupiter. Juglans is derived from Jovis glans, meaning Jupiter’s acorn, and regia meaning royal.
Walnuts should not be shelled until ready to use, and once shelled can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for up to one year
The United States is the world’s top producer of walnuts, with California providing more than 50% of worldwide walnut supply.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
Nutrients in Walnuts
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Walnuts also contain other potentially cardioprotective constituents including phytosterols, tocopherols, squalene and the amino acid arginine.
Walnuts are rich in the antioxidant ellagic acid, and in a preliminary study, it has been suggested that the ellagic acid present in walnuts has a high anti-atherogenic implicating the beneficial effect of a walnut-enriched diet on cardio protection.
Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Moderate amounts of oxalate are found in walnuts, and should be consumed in moderation by individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones. References:
1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Abbey M, Noakes M, Belling GB, Nestel PJ. Partial replacement of saturated fatty acids with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 May;59(5):995-9. PMID: 8172107.
5. Olmedilla-Alonso B, Granado-Lorencio F, Herrero-Barbudo C, Blanco-Navarro I, Blázquez-García S, Pérez-Sacristán B. Consumption of restructured meat products with added walnuts has a cholesterol-lowering effect in subjects at high cardiovascular risk: a randomised, crossover, placebo-controlled study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Apr;27(2):342-8. PMID: 18689569.
6. Maguire LS, O’Sullivan SM, Galvin K, O’Connor TP, O’Brien NM. Fatty acid profile, tocopherol, squalene and phytosterol content of walnuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and the macadamia nut. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2004 May;55(3):171-8. PMID: 15223592.
7. Anderson KJ, Teuber SS, Gobeille A, Cremin P, Waterhouse AL, Steinberg FM. Walnut polyphenolics inhibit in vitro human plasma and LDL oxidation. J Nutr. 2001 Nov;131(11):2837-42. PMID: 11694605.
8. Lanzmann-Petithory D. Alpha-linolenic acid and cardiovascular diseases. J Nutr Health Aging. 2001;5(3):179-83. PMID: 11458289.
9. Mozaffarian D. Does alpha-linolenic acid intake reduce the risk of coronary heart disease? A review of the evidence. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005 May-Jun;11(3):24-30; quiz 31, 79. PMID: 15945135.
10. Papoutsi Z, Kassi E, Chinou I, Halabalaki M, Skaltsounis LA, Moutsatsou P. Walnut extract (Juglans regia L.) and its component ellagic acid exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in human aorta endothelial cells and osteoblastic activity in the cell line KS483. Br J Nutr. 2008 Apr;99(4):715-22. Epub 2007 Oct 5. PMID: 17916277.
11. Ros E, Núñez I, Pérez-Heras A, Serra M, Gilabert R, Casals E, Deulofeu R. A walnut diet improves endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized crossover trial. Circulation. 2004 Apr 6;109(13):1609-14. Epub 2004 Mar 22. PMID: 15037535.
12. Feldman EB. The scientific evidence for a beneficial health relationship between walnuts and coronary heart disease. J Nutr. 2002 May;132(5):1062S-1101S. PMID: 11983840.
13. Sabaté J, Cordero-Macintyre Z, Siapco G, Torabian S, Haddad E. Does regular walnut consumption lead to weight gain? Br J Nutr. 2005 Nov;94(5):859-64. PMID: 16277792.
14. Chauhan N, Wang KC, Wegiel J, Malik MN. Walnut extract inhibits the fibrillization of amyloid beta-protein, and also defibrillizes its preformed fibrils. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2004 Aug;1(3):183-8. PMID: 15975066.
15. Photograph by Fir0002 used with permission under the under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License