8 Amazing Benefits of Walnuts for Your Health 2023: Nutrition & Diet

Sevginur Akdas

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

benefits of walnuts

Walnuts are one of the most frequently used tree nuts in diets. The benefits of walnuts are based on their essential nutrients such as healthy fat (omega-3 fatty acids content), vitamin (especially vitamin E), mineral, and fiber content.

So what are walnuts good for? Read on to find out the amazing health benefits of walnuts.

8 Amazing Health Benefits of Walnuts

  1. Prevent developing Type II diabetes
  2. Aid weight loss
  3. Heart health
  4. Cognitive function and brain health
  5. Reduce inflammation
  6. Gut health and digestive system
  7. Women’s health
  8. Skin health

8 Health Benefits of Eating Walnuts

Walnuts are commonly used tree nuts that help to improve diet quality while giving a great flavor to your dishes or salads. 

Studies showed that the rich nutrient content of walnuts helps to improve cardiovascular health, digestive function, brain health, and immunity.

Prevent Developing Type II Diabetes

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey[1] results indicated that the risk of diabetes was significantly decreased in the consuming-walnut group than in non-consumers. 

The evidence also showed that the risks of both high fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C level (a diagnostic marker for diabetes) were also decreased in the walnut-consuming group. 

Eating walnuts and its association with reducing the risk of developing type II diabetes (T2D) were investigated. While these effects were more potent in women than in men, there were definite benefits of walnuts on diabetes prevention for men, as well.

As a part of the PREDIMED study[2], the walnut consumption-related metabolites were shown to be inversely associated with the incidence of type II diabetes prevalence: more walnuts meant less T2D. However, it might not be a direct relationship [SEE NEXT SECTION].

Hyperglycemia[3] (high level of blood glucose) is the main reason for many different chronic diseases related to diabetes and insulin resistance–arteriosclerosis, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

Are Walnuts Effective To Reduce Blood Glucose?

The cumulative analysis[4] of different studies investigating walnuts’ effect on blood glucose showed there was no relation between walnut consumption and reducing blood glucose. 

Similar results were obtained in another meta-analysis[5] study that showed blood glucose levels didn’t alter with walnut consumption.

Although walnuts do not appear to improve blood glucose directly, it may be that consuming walnuts increases blood adiponectin and leptin[6] levels. These peptides mainly regulate appetite control by affecting the hunger center in the brain, reducing consumption, and mitigating blood glucose that way.

Aid Weight Loss

Research shows that walnuts are a great choice for weight management because of high polyunsaturated fats and fiber content. According to specialists, it is frequently recommended as a daily healthy snack for diets.

As such, walnuts are often consumed as snacks or ingredients in meals.

The common walnut is one the healthiest nuts to control body weight via it being an excellent fatty acid and anti-inflammatory source.

A meta-analysis study[6] suggested that although walnut intake does not affect weight loss in and of itself,  it yet may help weight loss by lowering body mass index and waist circumferences based on dosage (up to 35 gr/day), according to subgroup analysis based on intervention types. 

However, a Harvard publication cites another study[7] using brain imaging that showed eating walnuts stimulates a part of the brain that decreased feelings of hunger and appetite which may lead to weight loss. 

However, it should be mentioned that a high level of walnut intake may cause excessive calorie and fat intake which can only sabotage weight loss.

Heart Health

The most obvious health benefits of walnuts are on cardiovascular risk factors and heart disease. 

For metabolic syndrome patients who have a risk for coronary heart disease, it was shown that[8] the serum triglyceride level was significantly lower in the group who consumed walnuts than in the non-walnut consumer group.

This was corroborated in another meta-analysis study[9] in which a walnut-enriched daily diet reduced total blood cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The most beneficial effect of walnuts is reducing LDL cholesterol for heart health.

As is well known, LDL is “bad” cholesterol and the main risk factor for many cardiovascular problems, from atherosclerosis to heart failure. 

As excessive LDL cholesterol has the potential for oxidation by free radicals which cause inflammation. Oxidized-LDL cholesterol[10] can easily accumulate in vascular walls or lead to an inflammatory response in the area.

Can Walnuts Also Help Hypertensıon?

A major meta-analysis study[11] explored blood pressure alteration with walnut consumption by both the duration and the volume of daily dietary intake and found effects spanning, at best, only 1 mmHg on BP, e.g. from 120/80 to 119/79. This is not considered significant to alter any clinical management. 

Cognitive Function and Brain Health

As a part of the PREDIMED study, brain function was investigated. Eating nuts 30g/day in the Mediterranean diet (particularly walnuts, 15gr) showed better cognitive performance[12] and improvements in memory[13] compared to low-fat diets.

Another clinical study[14] conducted with women aged 70+ showed that women who took five or more servings of nuts per week delayed their cognitive aging compared to women who did not consume nuts. The brain function score difference between these two groups was equivalent to two years of cognitive aging.

In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES)[15], the health benefits of consuming walnuts on brain health among different age groups from 20 to 60+ were investigated. 

The results were that eating walnuts improves brain function in each age group. It is due to the essential fatty acid content of walnuts.

Reduce Inflammation

Clinical nutrition studies show that the nutrient content of foods is the main down-regulator for inflammatory pathways. 

Nuts are a rich source of healthy fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). 

Walnuts are known as the most common alternative plant-based omega-3 fatty acids source[16], especially for vegan and vegetarian consumers.

Gut Health and Digestive System

Gut health (microbiota) was another reason people who eat walnuts improve general health. 

A randomized, controlled trial[17] showed that the walnuts increased the abundance of Firmicutes bacteria which are healthy species for microbiota. 

Also, walnut intake reduced pro-inflammatory bile acids and unhealthy gut species, as well as LDL cholesterol.

Walnuts should be taken as a plant-based superfood that has low lectin levels. Too much lectin consumption due to plant-based eating habits may have harmful effects, such as gastrointestinal problems. Among the nut family, walnuts have a low lectin level.

Women’s Health

Healthy aging is an important factor in women’s health. It was shown[18] that nut consumption may reduce age-related diseases and lead to well-being and reduced risk of chronic diseases in women. 

Women make up an interesting demographic, combining attributes of hormones, age, and gender. This makes them an important group to include in any dietary study. 

The researchers found a relationship between healthy aging and nuts. After further analysis, only walnut consumption was found to be associated with healthy aging, according to 33,931 female participants during midlife.

Skin Health

Relation between walnut consumption and skin health wasn’t shown directly in the studies up to date. 

However, the healthy lipid content and anti-inflammatory properties of walnuts may promote a healthy skin barrier and healing. This is due to the omega-3 fatty acids, well known to improve skin health[19]

Beyond just the fatty acid component, vitamin E and polyphenols[20] in walnuts are observed to be beneficial for skin integrity.

Nuts support skin health with their essential fatty acids contents, and the walnut is one of the effective ones to protect your skin.

Nutrition Facts

The nutritional value[21] adjusted for 28 g (7 nuts) of walnut:

  • Energy: 183.12 kcal
  • Protein: 4.26g
  • Total Lipid: 18.25g
  • Total Fiber: 1.9g
  • Carbohydrate: 3.83g
  • Calcium: 27.44mg
  • Magnesium: 44.24mg
  • Potassium: 123.48mg
  • Linoleic acid (omega-6): 10.8g
  • Alpha-linolenic acid(omega-3): 2.54g
  • Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acids ratio: 4.25

How To Add Walnuts To Your Diet?

Walnuts can easily be used for meal prep or snacks. Here are the ways that you could eat walnuts:

  • Eat walnuts with fruits for a snack: You can try to eat walnuts with fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, or berries to balance the glycemic index.
  • On top of porridge and cereals: It is a good choice to eat walnuts in your porridge and cereal to feel satiety for a longer time.
  • Dips and sauces: Thanks to the oily content and unique flavor of walnut, its use in pasta or snack sauces is quite common in world cuisine.
  • Bakery products or bread: Walnuts are added to enrich bakery and bread products with healthy oils and minerals. 

How To Store Walnuts?

According to the storage analysis[22] of walnuts’ antioxidant and toxin content in different conditions, the best storage condition for a short time is preserving walnuts within their hard shell at room temperature; and for a long time is keeping peeled walnuts in the fridge to improve the shelf life. 

It was found that preserving walnuts at room temperature, not in the refrigerator, resulted in greater lipid oxidation and reduction in antioxidant activity after more than 6 months.

The Bottom Line: Are Walnuts Good for You?

Walnuts taste good, but they’re also good for your heart health, due to the omega-3 acids, antioxidants, and even a brain-influencing appetite suppressant that helps with obesity and diabetes. 

The rich content helps to improve immunity and prevent inflammatory reactions which are related to the pathological pathway of each disease. 

Also, walnuts have gotten the attention of neuroscientists who have found benefits for cognitive issues with aging. Diets, e.g., the Mediterranean Diet, include walnuts as a course of healthy fats. 

You can easily add walnuts to your daily diets as snacks, appetizers, or directly in your meals. These enrichments make your diet more balanced and preventive for many diseases.

+ 22 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Sevginur Akdas

Written by:

Sevginur Akdas, RD

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Sevginur Akdas is a researcher, medical writer, and clinical dietitian, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in metabolism, chronic diseases, and clinical nutrition fields. She has many scientific articles, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and book chapters on nutrition, chronic diseases, dietary supplements, maternal and child nutrition, molecular nutrition & functional foods topics as a part of a research team currently. Besides her academic background, she is also a professional health&medical writer since 2017.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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