Are these the healthiest nuts?
The majority of dietary studies recommend approximately eating 28gm of tree nuts (brazil, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) per day. In the case of walnuts this means approx 14 walnut halves.
Researchers are convinced—more than ever before—about the nutritional benefits of walnuts when consumed in whole form, including the skin. We now know that approximately 90% of the phenols in walnuts are found in the skin, including key phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids. Some websites will encourage you to remove the walnut skin—that whitish, sometimes waxy, sometimes flaky, outermost part of shelled walnuts. There can be slight bitterness to this skin, and that's often the reason that websites give for removing it. However, we encourage you not to remove this phenol-rich portion.
Walnuts have a high omega-3 fatty acid content. They are a rich source of phyto-chemical substances that may contribute to overall antioxidant activity, including melatonin, ellagic acid, vitamin E, carotenoids, and poly-phenolic compounds.
They have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases. They are also an excellent source of vitamin E which is a strong antioxidant, protecting us from harmful oxygen-free radicals as well as B complex vitamins and minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is somewhat unusual, and particularly beneficial. Instead of having most of its vitamin E present in the alpha-tocopherol form, walnuts provide an unusually high level of vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol. Particularly in studies on the cardiovascular health of men, this gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E has been found to provide significant protection from heart problems.
Phytonutrient research on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of walnuts has moved this food further and further up the ladder of foods that are protective against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems, and type 2 diabetes. Some phytonutrients found in walnuts—for example, the quinone juglone—are found in virtually no other commonly-eaten foods. Other phytonutrients—like the tannin tellimagrandin or the flavonol morin—are also rare and valuable as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients also help explain the decreased risk of certain cancers—including prostate cancer and breast cancer—in relationship to walnut consumption.