Walnuts: properties and benefits

Walnuts are good for health thanks to their antioxidant, anti-cholesterol and preventive action against heart disease. Learn about the beneficial properties of walnuts and how to best use them.

Walnuts are oval fruits covered with a green shell called hull. When the maturation of the walnut is complete, the husk dries up and blackens causing the walnut to fall.

Since there is a lot of moisture inside the husk, the nuts need to be properly dried before being consumed. Inside the shell, we find the walnut kernels, which are the edible part. There are several varieties of walnuts, the most common are those of Sorrento, with a very light kernel that easily detaches from the shell.

Californian nuts are also very famous, with their larger shells, while among other types of nuts we remember Brazil nuts (very rich in Selenium, a mineral that is a powerful antioxidant therefore protects against the action of free radicals), walnuts Pecans (which have the highest fat content and therefore, calories, but rich in antioxidants that counteract aging), and Macadamia nuts (which have a sweeter and more delicate flavor and appear to have a powerful anti-aging effect).

Walnuts contain essential nutrients, which have been shown to prevent various diseases. Let’s see in detail all the properties of walnuts.

Walnuts: characteristics and nutritional values

Walnuts are very caloric and therefore energetic fruits, providing about 650 calories per 100 grams of product. They consist mostly of fats and proteins. However, fats are unsaturated and therefore have numerous health benefits, especially for the heart. Fibers are also present in good quantities, helping in the regulation of intestinal functions, therefore in case of constipation, and balancing blood cholesterol and glucose levels.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of walnuts:

  • Waterfall: 4.07 gr
  • kcal: 654
  • Proteins: 15.23 g
  • Fat: 65.21 g
  • of which saturated: 6.126 g
  • monounsaturated: 8.933 g
  • polyunsaturated: 47.174 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.71 g
  • of which sugars: 2.61 g
  • Fibers: 6.7 g
  • Magnesium: 158 mg
  • Phosphorus: 346 mg
  • Potassium: 441 mg
  • Zinc: 3.09 mg
  • Vitamin B1: 0.341 mg (24.4% RDA)
  • Vitamin B6 0.537 mg (26.9% RDA)
  • Vitamin B9: 98 µg (49% RDA)
  • Vitamin E: 0.7 mg (7% RDA)
  • Soccer: 98 mg
  • Iron: 2.91 mg
  • Magnesium: 158 mg
  • Glycemic index: 15
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Walnuts: nutritional properties

Among the most abundant vitamins in walnuts we find the B vitamins, in particular B1 and B6, but also vitamin E and folic acid. Among the minerals we find above all Calcium, Iron, Magnesium but also Zinc, Phosphorus and Potassium. Walnuts are also rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Let’s see in detail which are the most abundant and their relative properties.

  • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids: the most present monounsaturated fatty acid is oleic acid while among the polyunsaturated we find fats of the Omega 3 and Omega 6 series. These fats are defined as essential as they are not produced by our body and must necessarily be taken through food. They are particularly beneficial for the cardiovascular system as they help to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, ie the “bad” cholesterol that is deposited in the arteries, and of triglycerides. Furthermore, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids play a valuable anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor action. For all these reasons they are called “good” fats.
  • Vitamin B1 or thiamine: it is a vitamin present in good quantities in walnuts and indispensable in energy metabolism, it regulates the functions of the nervous system but also of the heart and the muscular system.
  • Vitamin B6: regulates the synthesis of serotonin, which prevents disorders such as depression and insomnia, regulates the functions of the immune system and protects against brain functions, so much so that a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.
  • Folic acid or vitamin B9: present in good quantities in walnuts, it is an essential compound for the production of hemoglobin therefore it plays a very important role both during growth and during pregnancy, avoiding the onset of fetal malformations.
  • Vitamin E: it is a precious antioxidant, which therefore protects against the harmful action of free radicals.
  • Calcium: it is essential for the health of bones and teeth but also for the heart and the muscular system.
  • Iron: enters the constitution of hemoglobin, a protein that distributes oxygen to the tissues; its deficiency can lead to anemia, resulting in tiredness, paleness and muscle cramps.
  • Magnesium: this mineral becomes part of various biological processes and restores the balance of the nervous system, lowers blood pressure, prevents cardiovascular diseases and stimulates the functions of the muscular system.
  • Arginine: among the amino acids present in walnuts we mention arginine which performs many fundamental functions. Arginine promotes the dilation of blood vessels, facilitates wound healing, contributes to the disposal of waste substances such as ammonia and the formation of creatine, a substance that reduces recovery times after physical exertion.

Walnuts: health benefits

Walnuts are good in many ways. In fact, the combination of the nutrients just seen gives walnuts numerous properties for health, let’s see them together.

✓ Walnuts for heart health

Eating walnuts regularly helps prevent cardiovascular disease such as heart attack. As already mentioned, in fact, walnuts contain fats capable of reducing cholesterolemia with a consequent advantage for heart health because they avoid the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, thus preventing atherosclerosis. The latter action is enhanced by arginine and vitamin E.

✓ Antitumor properties

This property of the walnut is given by the presence of antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids. This action would occur especially against breast and prostate cancer.

✓ They are energetic and improve physical performance

Thanks to their high energy power and the presence of proteins, magnesium and arginine, walnuts are ideal for recovering energy in particularly demanding periods and for those who practice sports.

✓ Walnuts counteract arterial hypertension

This property of walnuts is due to polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular alpha-linoleic acid, arginine which enhances the elasticity of blood vessels and magnesium, which regulates blood pressure.

✓ They prevent glycemic peaks

Walnuts contain molecules capable of stabilizing blood sugar. They are therefore a suitable food in case of glycemic fluctuations.

✓ Nuts improve mood

Regular consumption of walnuts can improve mood, thanks to the presence of Omega 3, magnesium and tryptophan. According to a very recent study, the benefit of this effect would be mainly in young male subjects. According to scholars, this effect is also attributable to vitamin E and melatonin.

Walnuts: how to use and consume them

Let’s start by saying how many nuts to eat per day. To benefit from all the positive effects, it is enough to consume 6-7 walnuts a day corresponding to about 30 grams of kernels.

The ideal would be to consume them for breakfast, perhaps together with yogurt, or as a snack, together with a fruit. They can also be added to salads, to make it tasty and rich in properties, or in fruit salads.

It is also possible to consume walnut milk , which retains all the beneficial properties of the fruits. It can be made at home by simply soaking one part of walnuts and three parts of water overnight. In the morning you need to rinse the walnuts and blend them with two tablespoons of water, filtering everything with a tightly meshed strainer. Store in the fridge in a glass bottle, shake before drinking and consume within 3-4 days.

Walnuts: contraindications and potential negative effects

Walnuts should be consumed regularly, but watch out for the quantities! Being a very caloric food, they must be eaten sparingly, especially by overweight and obese subjects. They are also rich in nickel, to be taken into consideration by people allergic to nickel.

About 1 in 100 people have a nut allergy. Symptoms can occur in a few seconds or minutes and in any case within an hour of ingestion and are characterized by: swelling of the face, tingling in the tongue, hives, breathing difficulties up to anaphylactic shock, in the most severe cases.

Being rich in potassium, then, they should be avoided even in case of kidney failure. Finally, they have a high amount of oxalates, so they should be avoided by people suffering from kidney stones.


Leave a Comment