Walnut – A great nut for the heart and other parts of the body
Persian walnuts, (Juglans regia L), is one of the most important nutritive nut crop which belongs to the angiospermic family, Juglandaceae.
The origin of walnuts is reported to arise from a vast area in Central Asia throughout Eastern Europe including Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Southern Russia and Northern India.
Technically, walnut is the seed of a drupe or drupaceous nut, and thus not a true botanical nut.
Walnut is one of the most important temperate nut grown all over the world over an area of 607.81 thousand hectares with an annual production of 892.760 MT (International Nut and Dried Fruit Council INC, 2016-2017) .
China is the world’s largest producer of walnuts and India ranks seventh in world walnut production.
The major walnut growing states of India are Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. Walnut kernel is a rich source of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols which makes the fruit indispensible for human nutrition.
They are also a good source of flavonoids, sterols, pectic substances, phenolic acids and related polyphenols. Walnuts have high amount of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which are essential dietary fatty acids.
The main benefits of walnut kernels include lowering of cholesterol, increasing the ratio of high –density lipoprotein cholesterol to total cholesterol, reducing inflammation and improving arterial function. Walnuts contribute nutrients that are essential to a healthful lifestyle.
The health benefits of walnuts are attributed to the nutritional components it contains.
Reduce Risk of developing cancer The predimed human study, which assessed the Mediterranean diet, found that eating walnuts reduced cancer mortality.
Animal studies have shown consuming walnuts significantly reduced the number and size of breast cancer tumors. Researchers suggested that omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols in walnuts are responsible for the benefits.
One Ounce of Walnuts decreases cardiovascular risk Various studies have shown that adding walnuts can significantly decrease total and LDL cholesterol.
In an Iranian study, 52 volunteers were divided into 2 groups. One group ate 20 grams of walnuts per day and the other group ate none. After eight weeks, the walnut group lowered their triglyceride levels by 17.1% and increased their HDL (good) cholesterol by 9%.
Walnuts help to reduce body weight In a Harvard Medical School study, 20 men and women with metabolic syndrome participated in a randomized, doubleblind, crossover study of walnut consumption.
Subjects consumed a shake containing either walnuts or a placebo in breakfast. After just three days, those drinking the walnut shake reported feeling more satisfied and less hungry.
Walnuts improve endocrine parameters in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) In another study from UC Davis, 31 patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) randomly received either walnuts or almonds containing 31 grams of total fat per day for 6 weeks.
PCOS is commonly associated with insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and increased inflammation.
The walnuts decreased LDL cholesterol by 6%. They also increased insulin response and sex hormone-binding globulin. Walnuts help to control Diabetes Australian researchers studied 50 overweight adult diabetics in a one year program where participants received low-fat dietary plan.
But half the subjects also ate 30 grams of walnuts per day. In the first three months the walnut group significantly lowered their fasting insulin levels.
Walnuts Improve Thinking Ability In a crossover study, researchers assigned 64 college students to eat walnuts or a placebo. After eight weeks they found that walnut eaters had increased their inferential verbal reasoning abilities by 11.2%.
Other studies show that greater intake of high-antioxidant foods such as walnuts may increase “health span” and enhance cognitive and motor function in ageing.