In fact – anyone looking to improve nutritional health through a small change in diet should take a good look at the humble walnut.
And it really is a small change in diet that’s all you need to get the anti aging boost from walnuts.
Just one ounce of walnuts daily – equivalent to around 7 shelled walnuts or 14 walnut halves can give you the health benefits described.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
Research is proving that the health benefits of eating walnuts are pretty impressive from all sorts of angles.
As well as providing us with an easy delicious snack packed with good fats, fibre and protein – this super nut has so many nutritional benefits that it is really difficult to list them all in one short article.
Amazing to think a simple nut contains a hormone that helps you sleep better, essential fats with brain boosting power, antioxidants with disease fighting properties, anti aging skin benefits and many more health incentives, all wrapped up in one neat little package.
Walnuts and omega 3
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the walnut is the fact that it the richest source of Omega 3 (in the form of Alpha Linoenic Acid or ALA) outside salmon and oily fish.
Omega 3 is crucial for brain health and development and walnuts are packed with it. So it turns out that the old wives tale about walnuts – with their wrinkly brain like appearance – being brain food, is right on the money.
Your brain is made up of more than 60% fat and to function at their best these fat cells in the brain should be made up of omega 3.
It all comes down to fluidity – the fluid and flexible omega 3 fats are very good at maximising the cells ability to take in nutrients and get rid of wastes. This make walnuts extremely beneficial to our brain on a cellular level. Studies show that protective omega 3 levels can be radically increased by eating just four walnuts a day.
Walnuts are great brain food in other ways too – improving concentration, lowering rates of depression, helping you sleep better and protecting agains dementia and Alzheimers.
Walnuts benefit cholesterol levels
It is often forgotten that walnuts are a key part of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet.
Olive oil used to be seen as a key factor in the healthiness of the Meditteranean diet – increasingly research is focussing on the consumption of walnuts as even more important.
In recent studies it was shown that for high cholesterol patients one single walnut with a meal resulted in a 24% increase in blood flow.
Similar studies demonstrated that eating walnuts after a high fat meal can actually minimise the consequences and improve artery function.
Obviously no one food can be used to off set an unhealthy diet but if high cholesterol is a concern then walnuts are a great addition to your diet.
Walnuts for a good nights sleep
Not an obvious remedy for sleeplessness maybe but walnuts could help you sleep like a baby.
It’s all to do with levels of melatonin in our bodies. Probably not something most of us were even aware of – walnuts are full of melatonin – an important hormone produced by the pineal gland – crucial in promoting healthy sleep.
Once over 40 levels of melatonin drop giving rise to an increase in sleep problems which you may not have suffered before. Getting a good nights sleep is an anti aging beauty treatment in its own right.
This makes a handful of walnuts the perfect late night snack. Or you could add a handful of chopped walnuts to your evening meal – delicious sprinkled over a fresh summer salad, with natural yoghurt and honey or topping a hearty winter soup.
Walnuts help fight cancer
Keeping up your level of antioxidants as you get older is vital for protection from free radical related diseases like cancer.
Walnuts have plenty of antioxidants. They are a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper essential free radical fighting minerals. The hormone melatonin also contains high levels of antioxidants – helping you sleep better and protecting your health – quite an impressive double act.
Walnuts also contain another cancer fighting antioxidant – ellagic acid which is getting a lot of attention from cancer research bodies all over the world.
Ellagic acid is a compound which blocks the metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer. It not only helps to protect healthy cells from free radical damage but also helps detoxify potential cancer causing substances and helps prevent the cancer cells from replicating.
Walnuts have more ellagic acid than any other nut and more than many fruits and vegetables.
All these things working together make quite a powerful cancer fighting package – quite something for an unassuming little nut
Calories in walnuts
Despite the powerful health benefits of walnuts many people worry about the calories in walnuts piling on the pounds.
Studies have shown that far from causing weight gain, people who eat nuts at least twice a week are less likely to gain weight than those people who almost never eat them.
So there’s no reason to let worries about weight gain put you off the huge health benefits you could get from eating walnuts.
Remember there is such a thing as good fat.
Skin benefits of walnuts
As with most things that support a healthy body on the inside – walnuts help us look good on the outside too.
Walnuts are packed full of B vitamins which are excellent for the complexion – promoting smooth, supple and younger looking skin and who would argue with that?
In addition, walnuts also benefit skin due to their free radical fighting antioxidants and skin nourishing omega 3 oils. A potent cocktail of skin loving ingredients conveniently packaged up in a small healthy yummy snack – now that’s clever!
First off – make sure you know how to find the best walnuts and store them properly once you get them home.
Obviously the quickest and easiest way to gain from the many health benefits of eating walnuts is to simply snack on a handful.
Take a little tub of them to work or with you in the car for when you feel peckish. However there are many other more interesting ways to add them to your diet that are also quick and easy.
Walnuts make a wonderful garnish to many meals, throughout the day. Add crushed walnuts to your muesli or granola in the morning or serve them with plain yoghurt, honey or maple syrup.
Add them to a vegetable stir fry, sprinkle them onto an apple crumble, or stir them into your banana muffin mix. They make a delicious topping to savoury tarts, soups and salads and pulped walnuts mixed with an oil such as rapeseed make a beautiful and sophisticated dressing for many different meals.
They can also be ground into a paste which can be incorporated into stews or lentil dishes to give an extra layer of flavour.
The possibilities of walnuts are endless and the best thing is to do is to experiment and discover which textures and combinations of flavors you enjoy the most.
We all know that no one food works in isolation. A varied diet using a wide and colorful range of fruits, vegetable, nuts and seeds is not only delicious to eat but promotes anti aging health and protects from disease.
Every so often research alerts us to a food that is so packed full of health benefits that it is worth making the effort to add it to your diet.
In my book – walnuts are definitely one of the best anti aging super foods.