When it comes to snacking, I’m more likely to grab a handful of nuts than just about any other treat. Loaded with protein to power through any afternoon slump, they’re also an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3s.
And of course, I’ve been encouraging you to eat more nuts for years too.
Study after study has connected them to health benefits ranging from better blood sugar to lower cancer risk. And nature has packed them full of healthy antioxidants, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Which is why I wasn’t the least bit surprised by the results of a recent meta-analysis. The study confirmed what we always knew: walnuts are great for your heart.
Researchers took a deeper dive into 26 different trials and found that regular walnut eaters had…
- lower total cholesterol
- lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels
- lower triglycerides
In fact, by every measure, people who ate diets high in walnuts had better overall cardiovascular health that the folks who didn’t. Even better, they got those results without gaining weight or raising blood pressure.
Seven more health benefits tied to eating walnuts
But as I mentioned earlier, walnut benefits don’t stop with better cholesterol. There are bunches of other good reasons to make them your go-to snack.
Following are seven MORE great reasons you should be munching on more walnuts…
1. Antioxidant power:
Walnuts are a ridiculously good source of powerful antioxidants. In fact, experts say they pack in almost twice as many antioxidants as most other nuts. And that means they can help us fight off the damaging free radicals behind premature aging, chronic inflammation and most major diseases including cancer.
In two separate animal studies, walnuts were associated with a 30 to 40 percent reduction in prostate cancer growth and a 50 percent reduction in breast cancer growth. Plus they slashed the risk of ever developing breast cancer in the first place in half.
2. Lower blood pressure:
Research has revealed a link between walnuts and better blood pressure. Several studies, including the massive 4-year PREDIMED study, found that eating a daily dose could help reduce overall blood pressure. Which means, of course, they may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke as well.
3. Stronger bones:
Strong bones may start with calcium, but they certainly don’t end there. The minerals copper, manganese and magnesium all play critical roles in maintaining bone density and repairing the joints that support your bones. And it turns out walnuts are an excellent source of all three of these often-overlooked minerals.
4. Boost brain health:
We’re all forgetful from time to time. And brain burps or senior moments are common as we age. But actual memory loss is not normal and is a serious issue. Lucky for us, researchers say munching on walnuts could help us support better brain health.
In one study, the omega-3s in walnuts improved rats’ ability to learn and protected the rodent’s brains against overall cognitive decline. And a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that walnuts improved volunteers’ ability to think through and solve problems.
5. Beat the blues:
Experts say the omega-3 found in walnuts is tied to improved mood and a lower risk of depression. This vital fatty acid helps keeps your brain cells healthy, supporting the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
6. Better blood sugar:
Eating more walnuts may help you with better blood sugar control, too. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that the polyunsaturated fats, or PUFAs, in walnuts significantly lowered fasting insulin levels in only three months.
7. Have a healthy gut:
I’ve explained before how important the care and feeding of your gut bacteria, or microbiome is. Countless bacteria, both good and bad, live in your gut. Keeping them in balance, with enough happy and healthy good guys (probiotics) to keep the bad guys in check, is critical to overall good health.
And eating more walnuts appears to help do just that. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, a walnut-rich diet increased the number and diversity of good bacteria in volunteers.
And did I mention they’re delicious and filling too? In fact, research shows eating more nuts can help us control our appetites so we don’t overeat.
Which may be why nut eaters tend to weigh less than their nut-shunning peers do. So if you’ve been avoiding them because you’ve been afraid their fat content would make you fat, don’t.