Do you eat walnuts? They were never my favourite but I'm definitely incorporating more in my diet these days, the nutritional benefits make it a no-brainer ...

Admittedly, there is nothing fancy about walnuts at first glance. With its hard husk and unappealing colour, a walnut is not exactly an eye catcher. But never judge a book by its cover, crack it open and see what healthy goodies hide beneath ….

Nutritional analysis (1 oz = 14 halves, approx 28g serving)

of which Saturates1.74g
of which Monosaturated2.53g
of which Polyunsaturated13.37g
of which Omega 3: Omega 62.57g : 10g
Copper 50% RDA
42% RDA
Here are 10 reasons why you should consume this lovely nut on a regular basis:

1. Weight Loss

Despite being high in calories, walnuts are nevertheless a great dietary companion. Due to the fats and fibres found in walnuts, adding them to your diet will result in higher food satiety, keeping you less likely to snack or overeat.

2. Heart Health

The acids found in walnuts have shown the power to decrease the amount of ‘bad' cholesterol (LDL) and the level of triglycerides, which in turn reduces the possibility of cardiac decease. They have relatively high levels of Omega 3 (compared to Omega 6) and are the only nuts to contain a decent level of AHA, which is critical for heart health.

3. Brain Booster

Multiple studies have shown the benefits your brain may reap from walnut consumption. These include, but are not solely restricted to: better cognitive brain function, reducing the risk and severity of depression, reducing age-related brain dysfunction and improved memory.

4. Stress Control

It's true, walnuts have been shown to affect how your blood pressure reacts to stress, it can keep it lower than when you do not consume walnuts – clever eh!

5. Better Sleep

Ever heard of melatonin? If you happen to have sleep problems, chances are that you've indeed heard of it. It turns out that walnuts contain naturally-occuring melatonin, a compound that serves as an internal clock telling your body when to sleep.

6. Diabetes Prevention

The diabetes risk reduction is a perk associated with all nuts, and walnuts are no exception. In addition, those who suffer from diabetes may see their insulin level kept at bay - thanks to the good fats in walnuts keeping you full and less likely to grab sugary snacks.

7. Rare Antioxidants

The flavonol morin, the quinone juglone or the tannin tellimagrandin may mean nothing to you as words, but they sure mean a lot as antioxidants. Walnuts have some truly unique antioxidants rarely found in other food. They are thought to reduce chemically-induced liver damage and keep a lid on inflammation in the body (which in turn will help you keep your weight under control).

8. Skin Care

The antioxidants I mentioned above are very effective in their battle against free radical damage. Using walnut oil on the skin (neat) can result in smooth skin and the reduction of ageing signs.

9. Hair Care

Whether used as food or oil, walnuts are known to have a hair-suited set of nutrients. The B-vitamin in particular stands out, as it helps the hair not only to stay where it should, but strengthens it and increases its growth as well. 

10. Cancer Prevention

Research has shown that walnuts can slow down breast, colon, kidney and prostate cancer cell growth (in animals – human trials are coming). Walnuts contain many bioactive components linked with lower rates of cancer, including: Phytosterols, Gamma-tocopherol, Omega-3 fatty acids, Ellagic acid and related compounds and antioxidant polyphenols

11. And a final bonus for men …

Did you know that amongst men eating a western diet, eating about half a cup of walnuts has been shown to significantly improve sperm quality!

What kind of walnuts should I buy & how do I use them in my diet?

You now I'm going to say it: try and buy the best quality walnuts you can afford, raw and organic, if possible. The less mass-produced and processed, the better: it's thought that 90% of the antioxidants are in the white skin between the nut and the hard outer shell. That skin is always removed in mass-produced nuts.

You can buy (preferably organic & cold-pressed) Walnut Oil these days in most large food shops, which is great used in salad dressings and baking (but not frying due to its low smoking point, don't lose those nutrients). 

I use walnuts mainly as a standalone snack and in salads (my personal favourites are fig, walnut, spinach and goats cheese or apple, walnut and goats cheese), sprinkled on fruit, to make a walnut pesto and within paleo granola.

How many should I eat?

Ah, the old 'how long is  piece of string' question. Guess what, it depends! It depends on whether you're trying to address any specific health problems where walnuts have been shown to be effective or whether you're just including them as part of a balanced diet. Ideally, talk to a nutritionist about what the right level is for you and your body. And bear in mind that they are fat-rich and high in Omega 6 so while good, moderation should still be applied ... no eating handfuls of them every day!

My biggest tip?

If you can, soak and dry your walnuts first (I find it hard to even type ‘soak your nuts', I'm such a child sometimes!!). Nuts contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which reduce absorption of essential nutrients and make the nuts harder to be digested by your body. You need to soak them for at least 7 hours (overnight works well), then dehydrate them for up to 24 hours in your oven at its lowest setting or in a dehydrator.

How do you use Walnuts? Feel free to share any recipes, I'm always looking for new inspiration and if I like the recipe and it's Paleo 'enough', I'll share it on the website (with full credit to you!).

If you liked this article, would you share it on social media for me? Let's get the message out there about the best foods you can eat - TIA :-)