By Accounts Wilddate
Walnuts 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
With a moniker like ‘Jupiter’s royal acorn’, one can only imagine how celebrated walnuts have been in the history of food. It is believed that walnuts originated in Persia and were brought to Asia and Europe through trade. Later, they travelled through Spanish missionaries to California and became a staple crop that was grown in the region for centuries. Today, China is the top producer of walnuts along with the US. In India, it’s grown in multiple states, including Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
Walnuts are a powerhouse of energy and are recommended to be part of the diet on a daily basis. Let’s break down the nutritional value of walnuts.
Nutritional value of walnuts
Walnuts are largely made of 65% fat and about 15% of protein. They’re low in carbohydrates. About 30gms (approximately 14 halves) of walnuts consist of the following:
- Calories: 185
- Water: 4%
- Protein: 4.3 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Sugar: 0.7 grams
- Fiber: 1.9 grams
- Fat: 18.5 grams
Like most of the other nuts, the calorie content in walnuts comes from fat. This makes them a high-calorie food to spark a burst of energy at any given time. Within the fat content, they also contain a high percentage of the healthy omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is said to have numerous benefits for us. Walnuts are an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals as well.
- Copper, which promotes heart health and maintains bone, nerve and the immune function
- Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9
- Phosphorus, which helps in bone health
- Vitamin B6, that strengthens your immune system and supports nerve health
Health benefits of walnuts
Given that walnuts are rich in so many minerals, vitamins, fats and proteins, they are energy dense as well as beneficial to the body in several ways:
- It is said that walnuts lower bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body and improve blood vessel function to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Walnuts contain several bioactive components like phytosterols, ellagic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, gamma-tocopherol etc, that may have anticancer properties.
- Regular consumption of walnuts is said to impact memory significantly.
Recommended amount of walnuts to eat in a day
As nutritious as walnuts are, you don't need a lot of them in the day to get the benefits. Too much consumption of walnuts has been associated with gastrointestinal discomfort, allergic reactions, and high-calorie intake, causing weight gain. Stick to anything between 7-10 walnuts per day or better still, you can have it as a part of Wild Date’s snack bars or granola for a balanced quantity.
When to avoid walnuts
While walnuts are packed with benefits, there may be instances when you should avoid it.
- If you’re allergic to nuts, you may have a reaction that can range from a simple itchy mouth to severe, life-threatening conditions like anaphylactic shock
- If you’re on a low-calorie diet. Since walnuts are made of 65% fat and are high in calories, you may need a small quantity only, and have to balance this with other foods for your entire calorie intake in the entire day.