The full scope of the benefits provided by Walnuts is astounding! They impact so many aspects of human health, well beyond the scope of what we hope to achieve in this brief article. We will therefore limit ourselves to highlighting what we at The Great Cape Trading Company believe to be some of the more salient benefits that go with regularly including walnuts in your diet.
Firstly, walnuts contain the highest levels of antioxidants of all nuts. To understand why this is relevant, one must begin by considering what the impact of having an excess of free radicals has on our health. When the presence of free radicals in the body is excessive, it leads to a condition called "oxidative stress" which may trigger a number of human diseases, in addition to accelerating the aging process. Because antioxidants are believed to reduce the negative effects of free radicals in the body, the consumption of antioxidants is thought to help control how quickly a person ages, by slowing that process down, while at the same time helping to improve general quality of life. Walnuts contain several unique and powerful antioxidants that are similarly available in only a few commonly eaten foods. These include quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin. The antioxidants contained in walnuts are so powerful at free-radical scavenging that researchers actually call them "remarkable". Research has shown that walnut polyphenols may help prevent chemically-induced liver damage as well. Several studies have found that consuming high-antioxidant foods like walnuts “can decrease the enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress that occurs in aging”, “increase health span” and also “enhance cognitive and motor function in aging”.
In another study, researchers found that walnut polyphenols had the best efficacy among the nuts tested and also the highest lipoprotein-bound antioxidant activity. The researchers concluded: “Nuts are high in polyphenol antioxidants which by binding to lipoproteins would inhibit oxidative processes that lead to atherosclerosis in vivo. In human supplementation studies nuts have been shown to improve the lipid profile, increase endothelial function and reduce inflammation, all without causing weight gain.”
Lead researcher Professor Joseph Vinson, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry at The University of Scranton, continued, “A handful of walnuts has almost twice the antioxidant content as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut.”
When “real foods” are added to your diet, then you are adding in a multitude of beneficial compounds, from healthy fats to antioxidants. Eating “real foods” will benefit your health in multiple ways. This is certainly the case with walnuts because in addition to potentially boosting your heart health, the beneficial dietary fat in walnuts has been shown to benefit metabolic parameters in people with type 2 diabetes. Overweight adults with type 2 diabetes who ate one-quarter cup of walnuts daily had significant reductions in fasting insulin levels compared to those who did not, and the benefit was achieved in the first three months.
Walnuts may even help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well. In one study, mice that ate the human equivalent of 2.4 ounces of whole walnuts for 18 weeks had significantly smaller and slower-growing prostate tumors compared to the control group that consumed the same amount of fat but from other sources.
Overall, the whole walnut diet reduced prostate cancer growth by 30% to 40%. According to another study on mice, the human equivalent of just two handfuls of walnuts a day cut breast cancer risk in half and slowed tumor growth by 50% as well. The full scope of the benefits provided by walnuts are significant, what we hoped to do here was highlight some of those benefits which we considered to be most significant.