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Walnuts are considered a heart-healthy snack that is rich in protein, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies have explored the numerous health benefits walnuts have to offer, and the versatility of these tree nuts makes it easy to incorporate them into your diet.
Walnuts have a delicious taste and crunchy texture, which is why they are used in many desserts and baked goods such as cookies, cakes, granola, cereals, energy bars, and the ever-popular banana walnut bread. Ground walnuts and walnut flour are also used for baking. Walnuts are packed with essential fatty acids and produce an oil that is a rich emollient and is known for anti-aging properties.
The nuts have always been considered as ‘brain food’ perhaps because the surface structure of the walnut has a wrinkled appearance, like that of the brain. Due to this reason, they have been considered as a symbol of intelligence, leading to the belief by some that they actually increase one’s intellect!
While this is not exactly true, recent studies have shown that the consumption of these seeds does help in promoting brain function.
1) May Lower Cholesterol: Walnuts are one of the richest food sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. The research showed that walnuts were more effective at lowering LDL "bad" cholesterol in healthy patients than fatty fish.
2) Ideal Balance of Essential Fatty Acids: The 1999 Lyon Diet Heart Study demonstrated the importance of having a balanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA), which have been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer mortality. Walnuts are one of the few foods that contain an ideal balanced EFA ratio of 4:1. The typical American diet can be in excess of 16:1 or more, which can increase the risk of chronic diseases.
3) Antioxidant Powers: A study published in the journal Food & Function found that walnuts contained the highest total polyphenols from an analysis of nine different types of raw and roasted nuts. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that have been linked to the prevention of degenerative diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases. Walnuts have higher antioxidant activity than any other common nut.
This activity comes from vitamin E, melatonin and plant compounds called polyphenols, which are particularly high in the papery skin of walnuts.
4) Promotes a Healthy Gut : Studies suggest that if your gut is rich in health-promoting bacteria and other microbes (your gut microbiota), you’re more likely to have a healthy gut and good overall health.
5) Improve Heart Health : According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that have been shown to help improve heart health. Fresh raw walnuts are rich in amino acid l-arginine, and monounsaturated fatty acids (72%) like oleic acid.
It also contains essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and arachidonic acids. The inclusion of these nuts in any diet can help prevent coronary heart diseases by favoring a healthy lipid supply.
6) Manage Weight
Walnuts help you feel full, which means that they increase satiety. People who consumed shakes containing walnuts had an increased level of fullness during the day as compared to people who had placebo shakes. The rich source of protein and fiber makes walnuts a healthy snacking option, especially for vegetarians. However, they should be consumed in moderate quantities.
7) Boost Bone Health
Walnuts contain copper and phosphorus both of which are essential in maintaining optimal bone health. Essential fatty acids found in walnuts secure the bone health of the body. They may increase calcium absorption and deposition while reducing urinary calcium excretion.
8) Brain Health
Walnut oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve memory and focus, says a report published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging. Omega-3 fatty acids, coupled with iodine and selenium ensure optimum functioning of the brain. These nuts are included in the Mediterranean diet and they are also known to give relief from cognitive disorders.
9) Regulate Sleep : This nut makes melatonin, a hormone that helps induce and regulate sleep. Melatonin is present in the bio-available form in these nuts. In a research report published in the 2005 journal Nutrition, laboratory rats who were fed walnuts showed an increase in blood melatonin concentrations as compared to rats who were fed a controlled diet without the nuts. So, it’s best to add walnuts to your dinner dishes to ensure a good, restful sleep.
10) Skin Care : The vitamin E and F content in walnuts help in maintaining and protecting the skin from harmful free radicals. It also helps in preventing wrinkles and dry skin. Regular use of walnut-based products lightens the dark circles under eyes. Walnut scrubs act as a natural exfoliator and help keep the skin young and fresh.
11) Astringent Properties : Walnut oils have significant astringent properties. Toasted walnut oil has a rich, nutty flavor that helps bring aroma and flavor to the food. This flavor gives a pleasant taste, but only when it is used in moderation. It is used as a carrier/base oil in various therapies like aromatherapy, and massage therapy, as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.
12) Boost Immunity : Regular consumption of natural shelled walnuts helps in building a strong immune system, which can prevent the onset of various diseases. The rich source of antioxidants, as discussed above, is responsible for this benefit.