For being such a tiny food, walnuts sure do pack a lot of punch. In fact, based on several research studies, you might even call walnuts the superfood of the nut family. That’s because in addition to its heart health benefits and its ability to ward off some cancers, new research points to the idea that the nutritional properties of walnuts can also combat Alzheimer’s disease. Read on to find out more about the health benefits of walnuts, and how you can incorporate them into your diet.
Walnuts can help combat Alzheimer’s
A new study conducted on mice suggested that a diet that includes walnuts can help reduce anxiety and improve learning skills, memory and motor development in the brain. This is due to the high antioxidant content and brain-protecting properties that fight the inflammation and oxidative stress common in this disease.
Reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes in overweight adults
Individuals at risk for obesity are also at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But the health risks of such conditions can be reduced or avoided with a daily handful of walnuts. A study conducted by Yale researchers found that a walnut-rich diet improved endothelial function and lowered blood pressure in adults who had a BMI above 25.
Protection against prostate and breast cancers
A study conducted by researchers at the UT Health Science Center found that mice injected with human prostate cancer cells were less likely to develop tumors when given a daily walnut-rich diet. And for the few walnut-fed mice that did develop tumors, they were about one-fourth of the average size of the tumors in mice that did not consume walnuts. A similar study was previously conducted with breast cancer cells, with the same results.
The oils in walnuts play a significant role in cardiovascular health
Researchers at Penn State found that the oils in walnuts — alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-tocopherol and phytosterols — helped maintain the integrity of blood vessels and also lowered cholesterol levels in study participants. Healthy blood vessels are essential for cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of heart disease.
THE RECOMMENDATION: If you can add 56 grams (2 ounces, or two handfuls) of walnuts to your daily diet, you can reap the biggest long-term health benefits from this superfood. It’s as simple as tossing a handful into your favorite salad or stir fry, adding them to your yogurt, trail mix, cereal or oatmeal, or having them as a healthy snack between meals.
For more savory and sweet ideas on how to incorporate walnuts into your daily cooking, click here.