Everyone knows nuts are good for you, but which ones are the best? Of course that depends… what are you focused on? fiber? low calories? antioxidants? omega-3s? If you’re interested in the heart-health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, then walnuts are standing alone at the top of the leader board.
- Omega 3-Fatty acids: Walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid has a number of heart-healthy benefits, including a reduction in the risk of sudden death from dangerous abnormal heart rhythms and reduced inflammation.
- Reduced Cholesterol: Walnuts have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels and C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker that is strongly associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease. Both the linoleic acid diet and the alpha-linolenic acid diet are high in polyunsaturated fats. Substituting dietary saturated fats with these good polyunsaturated fats lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants help protect the body from certain chronic diseases of aging, due to their ability to control free radicals. In a study testing 1113 different foods for antioxidant levels, walnuts rank second only to blackberries in terms of antioxidant content.
Nutrition in One Ounce of Walnuts
How do I get my walnuts? I often pack a lunch with my favorite salad: romaine lettuce, dried cranberries, crumbled feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
Other ways to eat walnuts: pre-portion nuts into single servings for snacks, include walnuts in baked goodies, or top yogurt or oatmeal with walnuts.
Educational Handouts about Walnuts