Tree nuts are a healthy and delicious part of a balanced diet, and walnuts are especially healthful. Encased in both a hard shell and an outer husk, the protective layers are removed to reveal the edible seed of the walnut tree. Not only is the walnut a tasty, satisfying snack or ingredient, but it’s also full of nutrients to support wellness. Here are five facts you should know about walnuts:


#1 Walnuts are loaded with nutrients

Walnuts contain a range of nutrients: Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, fiber, potassium and high amounts of antioxidants. Additionally, walnuts contain a specific form of vitamin E, gamma-tocopheral, which has specific benefits for the cardiovascular system.


#2 Walnuts are good for the heart

Much of the research on walnuts has focused on heart health. One study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that walnuts may support healthy cholesterol levels, which is a contributor to heart health. The nut is also high the Omega-3 alpha lipoic acid (ALA), which may support healthy blood pressure levels and cardiovascular wellness. Additional research showed that walnuts specifically support the health of the endothelium, the organ that produces Nitric Oxide (NO). NO is involved in dilation of the blood vessels to support blood flow.


#3 The skin of walnuts contains high concentrations of nutrients

Some recipes might encourage you to remove the walnut “skin”—the waxy outer layer that can have a bitter flavor. For full nutritional benefits, leave it on. The whitish skin is nutrient-dense, and removing it may decrease the health benefits of the nut.


#4 Walnuts are rich in heart-healthy oil

High oil content is healthier than it sounds, at least in walnuts. The healthy nuts are richer in heart-supportive oils than other nuts, and research published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that walnut oil may support endothelial function and contribute to blood vessel health. In addition to eating raw walnuts, you can purchase walnut oil as an extract to use in cooking or baking.


#5 Walnuts should be enjoyed in moderation

Just a handful delivers a good amount of nutrition, and since the nuts are high in calories, it’s best to limit your intake to about a handful a day. Add them to breads, chop and disperse over salads, or have as a small snack.


What is your favorite way to enjoy walnuts?


[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19458020

[2] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/784748

[3] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/784748