Whether they’re brown English walnuts, black, purple or red, walnuts in general provide excellent nutrition and are an important source of health benefits as a result. Eating them on a regular basis, even every single day, just in limited amounts, both ups nutritional status and provides almost immediate and visible benefits for health. The aspects of health most improved by eating walnuts are: bowel movement regularity, blood sugar control, fertility and pregnancy outcomes, energy levels, iron levels in the blood, high blood pressure and memory, learning, attention and other cognitive functions.
Good for constipation
Contrary to the myth that says walnuts can cause constipation, walnuts and nuts in general are not constipating at all. Actually, walnuts are good for constipation, and so are most culinary nuts and seeds. Walnuts are high in fiber and fat which is why they effectively relieve constipation – while dietary fiber adds bulk to stools and stimulates peristalsis to move said stools down along the digestive tract, fats make stool passing easier as well as exert a mild laxative effect.
Black walnuts for underactive thyroid
Eating walnuts is good for hypothyroidism, a benefit owed to a good selenium content. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, meaning it’s underactive. In some instances, an underactive thyroid can be caused by a selenium deficiency (selenium is needed for iodine metabolism which in turn is needed to produce sufficient thyroid hormones). The average adult needs 55 micrograms of selenium a day. English walnuts provide 4.9 micrograms of selenium per 100 g, whereas black walnuts provide 17 micrograms, accounting for roughly 11% and 31% of the recommended daily intake of selenium for the average adult.
Benefits for fertility for men and women
Nuts and seeds are one of the best kinds of foods to eat to boost fertility in men and especially in women. In men, walnuts improve fertility thanks to their good zinc content, a mineral which improves the numbers and quality of reproductive cells. A serving of 100 g of English and black walnuts provides around 3.1 and 3.3 mg of zinc. The average adult male requires a minimum of 11 mg of zinc a day, while the average adult woman requires a minimum of 8 mg of zinc a day.
- But how are walnuts good for fertility for women?
Firstly, by supplying healthy amounts of zinc which helps the fertilized egg implant in the uterus wall. Zinc is further needed throughout pregnancy development and plays a part in preventing miscarriages and helping carry the pregnancy to term. Secondly, by supplying good amounts of selenium, walnuts regulate thyroid hormone production which, in turn, upregulates female fertility, promoting conception and preventing birth defects and intellectual disability. Lastly, eating walnuts is good for female fertility thanks to good amounts of vitamin B9, also commonly called folate or folic acid. The vitamin promotes the normal development of the brain and nervous system in babies and plays a big part in preventing neural tube defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord. English walnuts are higher in folate than black walnuts, providing 98 micrograms per 100 g, compared to only 31 micrograms in the latter. Low folate levels, but also low zinc, selenium and other micronutrients have a direct and meaningful impact on fertility for women.
Rise in energy levels
Walnuts are one of the best nuts to eat for more energy. In addition to a high energetic value (650 kcal for 100 g of English walnuts and 620 kcal for black walnuts), and good amounts of dietary fiber to ensure satiety and curb hunger, they are a great source of B vitamins which directly contribute to energy metabolism and restore vitality and energy levels. B vitamins representation in the nutritional profile is as follows (daily values representative for an average adult):
- English walnuts nutrition for 100 g: 28% of recommended daily intake of vitamin B1, 12% vitamin B2, 7% vitamin B3, 11% vitamin B5, 41% vitamin B6, 24% vitamin B9 (folate).
- Black walnuts nutrition for 100 g: 5% of recommended daily intake of vitamin B1, 11% vitamin B2, 3% vitamin B3, 33% vitamin B5, 45% vitamin B6, 8% folate.
In addition to B vitamins, iron further contributes to a revitalizing effect and combats muscle weakness and fatigue.
Good food for anemia
Walnuts are a great food to eat if you have anemia. All varieties are excellent sources of iron, providing over 20% of the recommended daily intake of the dietary mineral for an average adult for every 100 g serving. Iron deficiency is one of the main causes of anemia and associated symptoms, notably tiredness, weakness and fatigue. Correcting the deficiency by eating more iron-rich foods is one of the best ways to reverse symptoms. But because the iron in plant foods such as walnuts in the non-heme type, which is less bioavailable compared to the heme iron in animal foods, getting enough vitamin C in your diet ensures an optimal absorption.
Walnuts and blood sugar control
Walnuts of any kind, whether English, black, red or purple, are a good snack to consider for anyone looking or needing to lower their blood sugar levels. Given their overall extremely high fat content and good dietary fiber content, but low carbohydrate and low sugar, walnuts have a low glycemic index of only 20. This means they make a safe and nutritious snack for anyone with high blood sugar levels, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. When eaten alone, they don’t raise blood sugar levels. When eaten together with other, higher-glycemic foods, they reduce the effects on blood of those other foods, making them more diabetes-friendly. Of course, intake should be kept low. For those wondering how many walnuts a day to eat, the general consensus is no more than 1 oz or ounce, or the equivalent of 28.35 g, or 14 whole kernels or 7 kernel halves. Also read about black walnuts and diabetes.
Walnuts and high blood pressure
A serving of 100 of English and black walnuts provides 45-55% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium and 9-11% of the recommended daily intake of potassium. Getting enough magnesium and potassium from your diet is one of the best ways to bring down blood pressure numbers. Taking magnesium and potassium supplements brings down blood pressure almost immediately, in a matter of minutes, which shows just how effective these two dietary minerals can be in cases of hypertension. Consuming foods such as English or black walnuts on a regular basis is an excellent way to keep blood pressure numbers under control. Also see the benefits of red walnuts.
Walnuts for memory loss and brain fog
Walnuts as food promote brain and nervous system health, among their many other benefits. All thanks to their content of Omega-3 (and other types of fat). Compared to to animal foods, plant foods contain a form of Omega-3 called ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid. English walnuts provide a little over 9 g of ALA Omega-3 out of a total of 65 g of fat, whereas black walnuts 2.67 g out of a total of 59 g of fat (values for a serving of 100 g). The polyunsaturated fatty acid and other fats in walnuts help improve memory, reduce brain fog, increase attention span and focus, and support learning. Both unsaturated and saturated fat in walnuts are physically part of our brain cells, in addition to feeding the brain and supporting nervous system activity as a whole. Making sure you eat enough fat may hold benefits such as delaying or reducing the risk for cognitive decline as well as positively affecting depression and other mental disorders.