Walnuts contain high levels of protein, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins and many micronutrients. Eating a handful of walnuts every day is an easy way to increase the nutritional value of our daily diet.
Different teams of scientists have held tests on the health properties of walnuts. These are some of the findings of their research:
Health to heart
In 2009 a study was done on the benefits of heart health by taking nuts. It was published in the "American Clinical Journal of Nutrition". It involved 365 subjects. Comparisons were done between a control group’s diet /without incorporation of nuts/ and a diet supplemented with nuts, which is given to the other group.
In those that consumed nuts, a significant reduction (10.3 mg) of total cholesterol and LDL - "bad" cholesterol (-9.2 mg) was seen. Moreover, according to another conclusion of the study, walnuts increased the antioxidant capacity in the body, helped assuage inflammation and showed no adverse effects on body weight.
Another study, published in January 2007 in the "Nutrition Journal" aimed to assess the effect of the intake of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid from eating walnuts and flaxseed has on bone turnover, which showed that bone health was improved significantly.
The method consisted of a diet that was followed by 23 participants for 18 weeks. During the first six, participants received an average American diet, in the second six weeks of the study, they consumed foods with less saturated fat and cholesterol, and during the third test diet, they received much omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. In the three separate diet plans, a break of three weeks in which participants returned to their typical diet was added. During the study, they watched for bone metabolism and absorption.
The results showed that plant sources such as nuts, of dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may have a protective effect on bone metabolism and help proper bone formation.
Nuts and Diabetes
A study of Yale University, published in "Daybits Care" found that nuts improve blood flow in adults with diabetes mellitus type 2.
The method of study involved the participation of 24 volunteers (14 women and 10 men) with type 2 diabetes and blindness in one eye, chosen at random.
They consumed approximately 60 g walnuts every day, following their usual diet for 8 weeks. Then they just followed their usual diet during the other 8-week period. In both phases of the study, the endothelial function and cardiovascular biomarkers were monitored.
The results indicated significant improvement of endothelial function (which indicates the level of cardiovascular risk) after consumption of a diet enriched with nuts on some of the participants. Another study related to diabetics, indicated that regular intake of nuts that are high in polyunsaturated fats, stimulates metabolic processes in subjects with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Walnuts help fight cancer
A study published in "Nutrition and cancer" was intended to determine whether the consumption of nuts may affect growth of human tumors in breast cancer implanted in mice.
It extends to monitoring 40 mice with human tumors that were divided into two groups. One group was fed chopped walnuts daily (18% of total calories) - an amount equal to the consumption of 28 grams per person. Another comparison group accepted a diet supplemented with corn oil, with approximate amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibers that enter the body gets when taking in real walnut kernels.
After 35 days, the tumors in mice fed with walnuts were significantly smaller, about half the size of the tumors implanted in mice that were not fed with real walnuts. The researchers concluded that the results of this pilot study confirms that consumption of walnuts may slow the growth of tumor cells.
Walnuts - good for the mind and the nervous system
Although medicine has not yet been found as an effective treatment for dementia or Alzheimer's disease, cognitive decline can be somewhat prevented. Eating specific foods, maintaining physical activity and participation in social activities can promote mental health.
A study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" found that a diet containing about 6% consumption of nuts (equivalent to one oz /28.3 g/ in humans), is able to positively affect age-related motor and cognitive dysfunction in aging rats.
The test method involved feeding control rats a 2.6 and 9% walnut diet for eight weeks before their motor and cognitive tests.
The results of the testing of their motor function showed that a 2% walnut diet improves walking on a pole, while 6% walnut diet helps circulation in an average length walk on a board. All walnut diets improved the working memory in rats in a Morris water maze. These findings suggest that as moderate dietary supplements, these kernels can positively affect physical and mental abilities in aging rats. Walnuts can delay the onset of debilitating neurodegenerative diseases in humans.