One ounce of walnuts is a powerhouse of important nutrients for optimum health.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (Omega-3)
Walnuts are nutrient powerhouses comprising primarily of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) (13 grams out of 18 grams total fat). In fact, walnuts are the only tree nut to provide an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – the plant-based form of Omega-3. In one ounce (12-14 halves; ¼ cup) there are 2.5 grams of ALA which is more than eight times the amount found in the next highest nut!
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids critical for various body processes and known to reduce inflammation. The body can only obtain these necessary fatty acids through food. Research has suggested that Omega-3s may also help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases.
A Source of Antioxidants
Research suggests that antioxidants may help to protect from certain chronic diseases of aging, including cardiovascular, neurological and carcinogenic ailments due to their ability to control free radicals – known to negatively influence healthy aging. Walnuts are known for their high antioxidant content (13.126 mmol/100 grams).
Walnuts and Plant-Based Protein, Fiber, Vitamins, and Minerals
Consuming a diet consisting of plant-based foods can be a healthy way of eating. Incorporating walnuts into meals and snacks is a simple, tasty and convenient way to help ensure adequate protein intake, especially among vegetarians. One ounce of walnuts provides four grams of protein, as well as two grams of fiber. Found solely in plant foods, fiber helps make you feel full and can control overeating, and can assist in lowering cholesterol and regulating blood glucose levels. Walnuts also contain numerous other vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of magnesium (11% daily value) and phosphorus (10% daily value) – both important minerals involved in body’s processes and necessary for achieving optimal wellness.
A Nutrient-Dense Package
Considering the nutrients found in walnuts, an ounce or a handful is an easy way to improve your nutrient intake. Walnuts have been identified as a nutrient dense food choice on several nutrient density ranking scales. The convenience, flavor, and versatility of walnuts combined with their nutrient profile make them an ideal, economical ingredient and snack. In addition, walnuts are naturally gluten-free!
When Fat is a Good Thing
Walnuts are rich in unsaturated fat – especially the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). A handful, or 28g of these nutritious nuts provides a generous 18g of unsaturated fat. In other words, 83% of a walnut’s fat content is unsaturated. That means that when you eat walnuts in place of another food that’s high in saturated fat (e.g. chocolates), they can help to lower cholesterol levels too.*
*Walnuts are high in alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), which helps to maintain normal cholesterol levels as part of a balanced diet.
Walnuts are high in unsaturated fat. Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat in a balanced diet helps to lower our cholesterol levels, which is important for heart health.