A Nutty Affair: Here’s Why Walnuts Are An Irreplaceable Part Of My Diet

And here’s why you should aim for a handful a day too – By Athlete and Fitness Expert Ayesha Billimoria

For many, switching to a healthy diet equals sacrifice: forgetting a few favorite foods and cutting back on carbs or fats, to begin with. Did you know that there is a huge misconception among people across the world that dietary fat is their enemy? Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad. In fact, incorporating moderate amounts of the good stuff (think California walnuts) is key to adding good fats to your diet. They are loaded with a host of benefits for our brain, heart, and gut.

Here, I give you five reasons why walnuts and I have become inseparable. The biggest reason ever has to be their nutritional value. Did you know: a handful of walnuts (28g) contain plant-based omega-3 ALA (2.5g), protein (4g), and fiber (2g)? Well, now you do!

Heal-thy Gut!

From a strong immune system to better digestion and metabolism, a happy gut ensures several benefits. And the key to a healthy and happy gut is good bacteria. Studies show that eating walnuts result in an increase in good bacteria and also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, which takes me to my next important point.

Healthy Heart for Life

Our heart constantly works without resting, and we all want it to beat at its best. Avoiding unhealthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle are two of the basic steps to protect your heart, but when it comes to boosting its health, I rely on walnuts and their nutrients to do the job. This nutritional powerhouse is linked to reduced blood pressure and total cholesterol. In fact, a study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that if a person ate walnuts regularly, he or she may have a lower risk of developing heart disease.

Slow the Wheels of Time

With age, our body and mind become vulnerable to several ailments. While we can’t stop aging, we can definitely focus on ‘healthy aging’, which isn’t a far-fetched dream if we make sensible tweaks to our diet and overall lifestyle. Several research studies have discovered that nutrients such as polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids in walnuts play a role in helping maintain and improve physical function as well as cognitive health as people age.

Helps in Weight Maintenance

Studies have found that when you eat walnuts, they activate a certain region of your brain, which helps resist tempting food cues and control your appetite and weight. Consuming just a handful every day helps you avoid unnecessary indulging.

Food for the Brain

A walnut half looking like our brains is not a coincidence but nature’s hint to us about the special connection they share. Thanks to its rich plant-based omega-3 content, this nutritional powerhouse is known as the ultimate brain food. Why so? Because these fatty acids may bear the potential to not just boost our mood but also our memory. Omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid, to be specific) and polyphenolic compounds found in these brain-like nuts counteract oxidative stress and inflammation, which are two drivers of cognitive decline.

Now, these are just the top five reasons why I can’t go without eating a handful of walnuts every day. But the benefits of this nutritious nut don’t stop here. Incorporate these in your daily diet and experience it yourself!