NYS Certified Nutritionist

Benefits of Walnut Consumption

Consuming tree nuts has been linked to improved health outcomes for years. Tree nuts include hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, among others. Peanuts are often counted among tree nuts, but that is inaccurate. Peanuts [despite the second syllable in their name] are actually in the legume category, and like legumes, grow underground…not on trees. While legumes do offer tremendous health benefits, this article is exclusively about nuts that grow on trees…tree nuts.

Walnuts have been studied for years because they provide omega 3 fatty acids, similar to the beneficial fats contained in salmon, sardines, and anchovies. Last November’s issue of the journal Nutrients contained an article reporting data from a new study of people, who do not usually consume nuts, to evaluate the effect of a one ounce serving of walnuts per day on their health. It is also worth noting that walnuts may provide anti-inflammatory benefits to those who consume them.

After studying 7,757 “no-nut consumers” it was determined that consuming a handful of walnuts daily boosted their intake of essential nutrients closer to the recommended daily intake for: calcium, folate, magnesium, and vitamin E. In addition, their fiber and potassium intakes surpassed the recommended daily intakes of those essentials.

Adding nuts to one’s diet, particularly walnuts, is normally positive. There are many with tree nut, and/or peanut allergies who would not be candidates for adding nuts to their diets. In addition, I caution clients about including three specific nuts in their diets. I consider the saturated fat content of coconuts, and macadamia nuts unnecessarily high, providing more risk than benefit. [These should be eaten with caution, in small amounts.] The third warning is about consuming Brazil nuts. One of these giant nuts contains the daily requirement of the mineral selenium. Eating more than one Brazil nut puts one at risk of consuming an unsafe amount of this required mineral that is also a heavy metal.

Enjoy your safe tree nuts, knowing they have the potential to add years to your life, as they reduce the risks of heart disease, strokes, and obesity. Only one ounce per day could make a difference. Eating more than that amount could add calories which could lead to unwanted weight gain.

Dateline: Capital Region, Albany County, New York State