Walnuts: Omega-3 Enriched Superfood For Optimum Wellness

Every year, we make New Year resolutions, hoping to spark positive changes by committing to healthy eating. But once the glow of New Year wears off, the struggle to stick with these resolutions begins. So, if you don’t want to be in the camp of folks that fail to achieve their aspirations, make sure to fuel your health goals with versatile foods such as walnuts that are not only nutritious but incredibly delicious. Incorporating walnuts into meals and snacks is a simple, tasty, and convenient way to help ensure adequate nutrient intake.

With a majority of Indian population following a vegan/ vegetarian diet, walnuts come to a great rescue providing protein and fiber. They also contain numerous other vitamins and minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, involved in various body processes necessary for achieving optimal wellness. But what makes walnuts unique among nuts is omega-3. Walnuts are the only tree nut that contains a significant amount of plant-based omega-3, ALA, at 2.5g/28g, which is 5 times more ALA than the next highest nut.

Overview of Omega-3

Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids, meaning the body cannot produce them and has to get them through food to provide the body what it needs. Marine sources (EPA/DHA) are found in oily fish and plant-based sources (ALA) are found in flaxseeds and flax oil, canola oil and walnuts. In recent years, the number of studies describing the health-promoting benefits of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids has increased substantially, primarily in the area of heart health.

ALA and Heart Health

A study from Advances in Nutrition found that ALA may help improve heart health just as we have seen in studies focused on EPA and DHA.1 The literature review provided evidence showing the potentially beneficial role ALA may have in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack.

ALA and Brain Health

A review study from Progress in Lipid Research assessed the tissue levels of omega-3 DHA formed from ALA.2 The takeaway from this study was that through its conversion process, ALA may play a role in maintaining DHA levels in important tissues such as the brain.

ALA and Overall Mortality

Research from one of the largest clinical trials looking at the benefits of a Mediterranean diet suggested older Spanish individuals (ages 55-80) with a high cardiac risk who supplemented a high fish diet with dietary ALA saw a reduced risk of all-cause mortality.3Specifically, study participants who consumed at least 0.7% of their daily calorie intake from ALA had a 28% reduced risk of all-cause mortality. These studies provide even more reason to include a variety of omega-3 sources when planning your diet.

The latest “Power of 3” campaign of California walnuts encourages you to spread the message of including 3 handfuls of omega-3 rich walnuts to minimum of 3 people to create a happy and healthy community. So, generate the buzz to help your friends and family tread towards a path of overall wellness.

1 Fleming JA, Kris-Etherton PM. The evidence for α-linolenic acid and cardiovascular disease benefits: comparisons with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(6):863S-76S. doi: 10.3945/an.114.005850.

2 Barceló-Coblijn G, Murphy EJ. Alpha-linolenic acid and its conversion to longer chain n3 fatty acids: Benefits for human health and a role in maintaining tissue n-3 fatty acid levels. Prog Lipid Res. 2009;48(6):355-74. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2009.07.002.

3 Sala-Vila A, Guasch-Ferré M, Hu FB, et al. Dietary α-linolenic acid, marine ω-3 fatty acids, and mortality in a population with high fish consumption: findings from the PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5(1):e002543. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.