The health benefits of walnuts are attributed to its rich and various nutritional components. Before we go further into its health benefits, let’s have a look on the entire walnut.
Botanical name: Juglans regia L.
Botanical family: Juglandaceae
The walnut is the seed of the fruit of the walnut tree, ‘Juglans regia’L., a tree of the botanical family Juglandaceae. The walnut is not the fruit of the walnut tree, but a seed within the fruit. The fruit is just a normal drupe with a fleshy pericarp and mesocarp, and a woody endocarp (the seed) which is known as the walnut.
PROPERTIES OF WALNUT
Walnut, believed to have originated from central Asia, is one of the most concentrated food sources of nutrients. It is considered among the nuts with the highest caloric content (about 642kcal/100g).
The following are the nutrients present in walnuts:
• Fat – Walnuts are very rich in fats. It makes up about 61.99% of its weight, even greater than that in almonds and peanut. These fats are formed mainly of unsaturated fatty acids, with more of polyunsaturated acids. Among these two fatty acids, the following stands out:
* linolenic acid – This helps reduce the cholesterol and triglycerides level in the blood. It also help stop inflammatory actions and prevents the formation of blood cloths in the vessels.
* linoleic acid – This is an essential fatty acid the body cannot do without. It helps lower cholesterol level. It is also involved in the production of antibodies (a substance in the blood that fights diseases) and in the formation of nerve tissue.
These two acids, linoleic and linolenic, are very important to the body. Walnuts are one of their best sources.
• Proteins – Walnuts contain about 14.3% of proteins, but these proteins are deficient in an essential amino acid called methionine. In order to complete the proteins, walnuts are combined with whole grains like rice or wheat, which are rich in methionine.
Another advantage of mixing the nuts and grains, is the ability of the nuts to complete two important essential amino acids that are deficient in whole grains. Thus, the mixing of nuts and whole grains is very important, as it helps complete the proteins which can be even more superior to that of meat.
• Carbohydrates – Among all other oil-baring nuts, walnuts is the lowest in carbohydrates, only at about 13.5%. This is the main reason why walnuts are highly tolerated by the diabetics.
• Vitamins – Walnuts are rich in B group vitamins, mainly vitamin B1 (which is important for the functioning of the heart) and vitamin B6 (which is involved in red blood cell production. They are also rich in Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6, but poor in vatamin C and A.
• Minerals – Walnuts are rich in phosphorus, potassium, and trace elements like zinc, copper, and manganese. They also contain significant amount of calcium, iron, and magnesium, but are very poor in sodium.
Health benefits / medicinal uses of walnut
The medicinal indications of walnuts are due to its nutritional composition. Below are some of its medicinal applications:
• Elevated cholesterol – We have seen that the two fatty acids, linolenic and linoleic, present in walnuts help lowers the cholesterol level.
Researches have also shown that regular consumption of walnuts reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood.
• Coronary heart disease – This is one of the primary therapeutic application of walnuts. The consumption of walnut is effective in preventing or treating coronary heart disease due to:
* its cholesterol reducing property, as it lowers the cholesterol level in the blood, thus, the lower the risk of arterioscelerosis, and heart attack at large.
* its high vitamin B content, which is necessary for the function of the heart.
* its richness in fatty acids, as they make part of the energy source for the cells of the heart. This is highly important, as the body cells use glucose as a fuel, the heart cells use fatty acids as part of their fuel.
• Diabetes – This is very simple to understand of you have read the properties above. It is highly recommended for the diabetics due to its very low carbohydrate content.
• Nervous system disorders – Due to the richness of walnut in essential fatty acids, which are directly involved in metabolism of neurons, and other important substances, they are highly recommended for those suffering from:
They can also be highly useful to knowledge workers, and even students.
• Sexual disorders – Walnuts are said to increase a man’s potency, and improve sexual performance in general. For an excited sexual life, walnuts are highly recommended.
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