Walnuts Are One Healthy Nut

Posted Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:55am by Fred Lee

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One of the biggest reasons that walnuts in particular are so good for us is because they are the only nut that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for many of our normal bodily functions, including neural cell development and blood clotting. Since they are not produced by our bodies, we must obtain them from the foods we eat.

There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in a few vegetable oils, including soybean, flaxseed, canola and walnut, as well as certain green vegetables, such as Brussel sprouts, kale, and spinach. The other types (EPA and DHA) are found primarily in fatty fish.

Many of these foods are part of the Mediterranean diet, which has long been connected with good health and longevity, and one in which includes walnuts. In fact, due to their high ALA content, it has even been suggested that walnuts play a larger role than olive oil in conferring the Mediterranean diet with all of its healthful qualities. Regular consumption of walnuts are believed to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels in our blood, lower the risk of heart disease, and help prevent certain cancers.

Walnuts are also good for our minds. The neurons that make-up the tissue of our brains are composed primarily of structural fat, particularly in the cell membranes. Omega-3s help in the development and maintenance of these cell membranes and as a consequence, help to improve cell metabolism.

Studies have supported this connection to mental health, whereby diets low in omega-3s are associated with higher rates of depression. In children, ADHD, hyperactivity, learning disorders, and behavioral problems have all been linked to low levels in omega-3s in the diet.

The typical American diet is notoriously low, if not devoid, of foods rich in omega-3s. It has been suggested upwards of 60% of the American are deficient in omega-3s, with an estimated 20% having so little in their diets that it cannot even be measured in their blood.

So if you’re looking to get more omega-3s in your diet, consider walnuts as a tasty and wholesome addition to any meal. For some culinary inspiration, check out this website, or just eat them straight as a snack.

It is important to keep in mind that even though walnuts and other sources of omega-3s are good for us, they are not an excuse to binge on unhealthy foods, and experts are quick to caution that the benefits occur in conjunction, rather than in lieu of, a healthy diet.

For more information, contact a nutrition expert, and if you have any questions or concerns about nut allergies, talk to you physician.

 

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