While it’s well documented that the grocery aisles and convenience stores are full of unhealthy sugary and salty snacks, extensive studies have shown that a wide variety of nuts provide numerous health benefits. Walnuts, nutritionists and scientists agree, check all the boxes as a healthy snack, enhancing brain, heart and bone health and helping with weight management.
“Just about everything that’s wrong with America’s health is related to diet,” says Dr. Earl L. Mindell, a spokesman for Primavera® brand walnuts and an internationally-recognized expert on nutrition, vitamins and herbal remedies, and the author of 63 health-related books. “We’re killing ourselves in this country with what we’re eating, and snacking is the big killer. Look at our grocery aisles – it’s almost all junk.
“Walnuts are the super-healthy snack food. People don’t often think of walnuts as a snack, but often a cooking additive. What they are is a health additive that takes care of your snack cravings and takes care of you. It’s amazing what a little nut can do.”
Dr. Mindell says the health benefits that walnuts provide include:
- Antioxidants. Walnuts have been found to have higher levels of antioxidants than any other commonly eaten nuts. A study showed eating a walnut-rich meal prevented oxidative damage of bad LDL cholesterol (which can lead to an artery disease of plaque buildup called atherosclerosis). “It protects you against the free-radical oxygen molecules that can lead to degenerative diseases,” Mindell says.
- Weight control. Despite having high-calorie and fat levels, as do most nuts, walnuts can help reduce belly fat and maintain weight control, studies indicate. “The protein, fiber and fat content help keep you satiated longer,” Dr. Mindell says. “Your blood sugar drops at about 10 in the morning, then again in the afternoon and late at night. It’s at those times you get the munchies and go for some kind of sugar snack. Walnuts send impulses to the brain that you are satiated.”
- Brain food. Walnuts contain neuroprotective compounds such as Vitamin E, folate, melatonin, and a significantly high concentration of DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. “DHA has been shown to protect brain health in newborns, improve cognitive performance in adults, and prevent age-related cognitive decline,” Dr. Mindell says. A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed inferential reasoning in college students increased significantly after eating walnuts.
- Heart smart. Many studies confirm that walnuts help reduce your risk for heart disease, including reducing cholesterol. Walnuts were one of the first foods receiving a qualified health claim about their heart-health benefits from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and they are certified by the American Heart Association as a Heart Healthy food.
- Anti-inflammatory agent. Unique among nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid. “Plant-based Omega-3s reduce inflammation throughout the body,” Mindell says. “Most diseases killing us today are inflammatory diseases.”
- Prime nutrients. An ounce of walnuts (about 14 halves) brims with nutrients essential for optimal health – four grams of protein and two grams of fiber. “They’re also a good source of magnesium and phosphorus, which benefit muscle function and bone mass,” Dr. Mindell says.
“So many products have sugar in them,” Dr. Mindell says. “Our habits are often wrong and they’re deeply rooted through the generations. Think about it: When you were a kid, how were you rewarded? With sugar. But there are far better options, like walnuts, which can satisfy hunger, but more importantly, safeguard your health.”