The California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission represent nearly 100 handlers and over 4,800 growers spread across California’s Central Valley, where over 99% of the walnuts in U.S. are grown. For more than 25 years and in 164 published studies, researchers have investigated the role of walnuts in areas from heart health to weight management, cognition and more.
Whether you’re training for a half marathon, building strength or simply focusing on maintaining a healthy weight, fitness goals start with the right fuel. Today, one in four consumers wants to eat foods that provide health benefits, and they may turn to you for advice (International Food Information Council 2019). Walnuts are a simple but powerful food that offer health benefits from head to toe. Here’s why:
- Start with the Heart: Walnuts are a heart-healthy1 whole food that may beneficially impact cholesterol levels, blood pressure, inflammation and blood vessel function, all key factors for a strong heart. While all nuts are packed with good, unsaturated fats, walnuts are the only nut that is an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), with 2.5 grams per ounce. What’s more, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats (like those found in walnuts) to support cardiovascular health (HHS and USDA 2015).
- Keep the Brain in Mind: Research suggests walnuts may positively impact concentration, mood, depression and memory—including risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Go with the Gut: Certain foods can foster a healthy gut microbiome, which may be linked to a variety of health benefits. Read the research that shows why walnuts may be a good choice.
- Reduce Inflammation: Whether it’s sore muscles after a strenuous workout, pain after an injury, or the result of a chronic disease (like obesity or diabetes), inflammation can damage the body. Fortunately, what you eat can help lessen this impact (Galland 2010). Certain nutrients in walnuts, including antioxidants2 and omega-3 ALA (2.5 grams per ounce), may play a role in reducing inflammation.
- Make it Work for Your Clients: From Mediterranean to vegetarian diets, walnuts can enhance a variety of eating plans by providing a convenient source of key nutrients. In addition to good polyunsaturated fats, walnuts are gluten-free, lower in carbohydrates (4 grams total per ounce, including 2 grams of fiber), and have plant-based protein (4 grams per ounce).
Walnuts support an active lifestyle with nutrients that deliver the staying power to achieve health and fitness goals. Blend them into a smoothie, pulse them into a satisfying meat substitute, puree them for creamy dips, nut butters and sauces, or add them to a trail mix.
Visit walnuts.org for more nutritious meal prep and snack ideas, published research and downloadable educational resources.
Galland L. 2010. Diet and inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2010:25(6):634-40.
International Food Information Council. 2019. 2019 Food and Health Survey. https://foodinsight.org/2019-food-and-health-survey/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2015. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th Ed.) http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
1 Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.
2 Walnuts offer a variety of antioxidants (3.721 mmol/oz), including polyphenols (69.3 ± 16.5 μmol catechin equivalents/g) and gamma tocopherol (5.91 mg/ounce). The data for antioxidant capacity of foods generated test-tube methods cannot be extrapolated to human effects. Clinical trials to test benefits of dietary antioxidants have produced mixed results.