MORE NEWS ON AFRICAN WALNUTS
Walnuts have innumerable health benefits.
In Nigeria, it is called Asala or Awusa in Yoruba, Ukpa in Ibo, and Okhue or Okwe in Edo. Tetracarpidium conophorum or Plukenetia conophora, botanically is the African walnut belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae.
Walnuts are a very common ingredient of our daily life. We consume walnuts in chocolates, in cakes, in cookies and more. Even though these taste slightly bitter they are one of the best friends of a baker, who we have slowly come to fall in love with too. The tree serves a multitude of uses; it can be used as food (edible seed), medicine, furniture and dye.
The walnut seed has a number of health benefits ranging from weight management to prevention and slowing of various cancers.
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 health experts 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 experts give for removing it. However, we encourage you not to remove this phenol-rich portion.
Walnuts are high in protein, vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, trace minerals, lecithin and oils. Compared with other nuts, which typically contain a high amount of monounsaturated fats, walnuts are unique because the fats in them are primarily polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and are the only nut with a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid.
Moreover, walnuts have insignificant amounts of sodium and are cholesterol free.
Walnuts are really great for the skin and body. Many makeup and skin care brands include walnuts in their ingredients as they are rich in nutrients that benefit our beauty routines.
They are also sought after for hair care. Many shampoos contain walnut extracts and walnut oil as they have proven to keep hair healthy and make them shiny.
Calories in Walnuts: An ounce (28g) of (chopped) walnuts contains 183 calories of which 153 calories come from the fats.
Vitamins and Minerals in Walnuts: Walnut contains a large amount of vitamins B6 (0.2mg per ounce of walnut) providing 8 percent of the daily requirement. It also has plenty of folate and thiamin and useful quantity of vitamin E in the form of tocopherol. Walnut is a rich source of manganese, one serving contributing to almost half of its required daily value. It is also rich in other minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
Omega 3 in Walnuts: Omega 3 and Omega 6 are two essential fatty acids required by our body for cell growth, immune function, blood clotting and disease prevention, but our body cannot make them on their own. So these fatty acids have to be obtained from our diet. Our body needs two critical Omega-3 fatty acids, (eicosapentaenoic acid, called EPA and docosahexaenoic or DHA) and walnut contains a precursor Omega-3, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts to EPA and DHA. An ounce (28g) of walnuts provides 18g of total fat of which 13g are PUFA and 2.5g are ALA.
Cholesterol Content in Walnuts: Walnut helps prevent heart disease and are the fruit recommended for lowering cholesterol. It is an established fact that coronary heart disease (CHD) is associated with high total cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol levels. Studies carried out across United States, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Israel indicated that consuming 2 to 3 servings of walnuts daily decreases cholesterol levels sufficient to lower risk of CHD.
It is safe to say that Walnuts serve as;
Walnuts as Brain Food: Walnuts have potential health benefits in the area of memory and cognitive function as well. Low omega 3 intake has been linked to depression and decline in cognitive function. And taking into consideration that walnut is a rich source of ALA (omega 3), it no doubt promotes brain health. Studies however show that only moderate amount of walnut (2 or 6 percent of a healthy diet) can improve motor and behavioral skills in older adults and higher amounts, say 9 percent, impaired reference memory.
Walnuts in Pregnancy – Although not much research has gone into the safety and benefits of consuming walnut during pregnancy, it is believed that walnut may stave off nausea during pregnancy and boost brain development in the child. However, one study showed that consuming tree nuts (including walnut) during pregnancy could raise the odds of asthma as food allergy in the child by 50 percent. But Harvard School of Public Health nutritionists rather suggest that consumption of peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy might even decrease the risk of allergic disease development in children.
Walnuts to Prevent Cancer – Walnuts contain multiple ingredients that, individually, have been shown to slow cancer growth, including omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols. Consuming walnuts regularly could even reduce the risk for breast cancer in humans indicated researchers at Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Marshall University School of Medicine, Huntington, West Virginia following a study on laboratory animals. According to them beta-sitosterol (a phytosterol) in combination with gama-tocopherol (vitamin E) benefited against cancer cell growth. Numerous studies have also shown that regular consumption of walnut can prevent and even slow the progress of prostate cancer.
Walnuts and Type 2 Diabetes – Diabetes and obesity expert Dr. David Katz recommends walnut as a nutritious food that must form an important component of a healthy diet. He completely agrees with the Harvard study that found two or more servings of walnuts per week to be associated with 15 to 21 percent lower risk of incident type 2 diabetes in white US women.
Walnuts for Weight Management – Contrary to what people believe, walnuts are actually good for weight management since an ounce of walnut contains 2.5g of omega 3 fats, 4g of protein and 2g of fiber that help provide satiety. And any successful weight management plan must include the satiety factor; so walnut is undoubtedly the right food to consider if you are into weight management program. Despite being ‘dense in calories’, walnut can also help with weight loss as is evident from the findings of a research published in the International Journal of Obesity, where overweight people following a Mediterranean style diet that included walnuts for 18 months could improve weight loss and keep weight off for a longer period than those following a low-fat diet.
Walnuts for Men – Eating about 75g of walnut daily could help improve sperm quality. Researchers from the UCLA found that the men who ate walnuts experienced improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology, as compared to those who didn’t. ‘Walnuts provide a particularly rich source of a-linolenic acid, a natural plant source of omega-3, which we suspect may have been responsible for the improvements we observed,’ said study researcher Catherine Carpenter. However, they are not sure if the findings work for men who have fertility problems.