1. Rich in Omega-3
An ounce of fresh walnuts usually contains around 2.3 grams of omega-3 alpha linolenic acid. This is nearly 100% of the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
It should be noted though that the RDI for omega-3 fats is set very low and is really only an attempt to prevent outright deficiency. It’s unlikely to be high enough for offer real health benefits and getting more omega-3s in your diet is recommended for optimal nutrition.
That said, it’s great to know that you can easily receive a good amount of omega-3 alpha linolenic acid with just a handful of fresh walnuts.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be involved in a great number of important physiological processes in your body. For some quick highlights:
- A good intake of omega-3 fat has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, as well as reduce blood pressure. In fact, omega-3 has such a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system it is recommended to lower the risk of heart disease and why walnuts are recognized as such a healthy heart food.
- Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body. Most diseases are diseases of inflammation and conditions like arthritis and diabetes can show significant improvement when the level of omega-3 in the diet is increased with foods like walnuts.
- The alpha linolenic acid found in walnut kernels or walnut oil has a beneficial anti-inflammatory effect on the gastrointestinal tract and may reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been used to help treat depression and are believed to have a role in preventing mental decline as we grow older. They are also vital for proper brain function and may have an impact on our mental clarity and day-to-day mood.
We don’t produce these fatty acids in our bodies so they must be obtained solely through the food we eat. Rarely though does the standard supermarket fare contain much of this important nutritional element. Unless you have a lot of walnuts, flaxseed meal, chia seeds or oily fish in your diet already, you probably need more omega-3 fatty acids, particularly for brain health.
The most effective source I’ve found for omega-3 fats is this high potency orange flavored cod liver oil. One teaspoon in the morning with breakfast covers your daily omega-3 requirements, with very high of EPA and DHA in a better ratio to most fish oil. It also contains natural vitamin A and good levels of vitamin D for healthy skin and higher immunity from colds and flu.
2. Gamma Tocopherol Vitamin E
Many people know that walnuts are a good for you because they are a great source of vitamin E. But probably not as well-known is that this vitamin E is primarily in the most potent form – gamma tocopherol.
Gamma tocopherol is a fat soluble antioxidant that helps maintain the structure of cell membranes and protect them from damaging free radicals. It is particularly important for preventing heart problems, but new research is showing it can have a role in reducing your risk of developing a variety of other health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and certain kinds of cancer.
Walnuts contain around 5mg of gamma-tocopherol per ounce and are one of the richest natural sources. If you would like to get more vitamin E into your diet avocado is another delicious and highly nutritious source.