Walnuts appear on numerous “superfood” lists, due to their exceptional nutrient profile and the fact that walnuts were the first whole food to earn the approved heart-health claim by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
Unique among nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acids, required by the human body. As one of the best plant food sources of omega-3s, a 1 oz. serving of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of ALA. A growing body of science is beginning to uncover a variety of benefits which ALA/omega-3s may provide us. While most nuts contain monounsaturated fats, only walnuts are comprised primarily of polyunsaturated fat (13 grams out of 18 grams total fat). Dietary guidelines recommend that people maintain total fat intake between 20-35% of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
According to an evidence-based review, antioxidants help to protect from certain chronic diseases of aging, including cardiovascular, neurological and anticarcinogenic ailments, by controlling free radicals which are known to negatively influence healthy aging. In a 2006 study, 1,113 different foods were tested, and walnuts ranked second only to blackberries in terms of antioxidant content.
Protein, Fiber, Magnesium and Phosphorous
In addition to essential ALA/omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, just 1 oz. of walnuts provides a convenient source of protein and fiber. Most Americans don’t get enough dietary fiber, which promotes healthy bowel function and helps you feel full—a key component in maintaining a healthy weight. In addition to fiber, walnuts are also a good source of magnesium and phosphorus, both important minerals involved in the body’s processes and necessary for achieving optimal wellness.
Source: The California Walnut Board