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Herbal Benefits of Walnuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats that can protect the body against heart disease.  They also contain nutrients that can provide additional health benefits.  In fact, even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recognized that walnuts are a healthful food.  Add them to salads, trail mixes and main dishes to get the protective effects of this delicious nut. 

Nutritional Information 

In addition to protein, walnuts contain important nutrients that are essential for the body to operate properly.  Just 1/4-cup of walnuts contains over 94 percent of the recommended daily value of omega-3 fatty acids.  These are good fatty acids that can provide a protective effect for the body.  Walnuts also contain the amino acid tryptophan, manganese and copper, which are all essential nutrients.  While a serving of walnuts does contain 163 calories, the benefits of walnuts are important enough to warrant regular servings of this nut. 

Health Benefits 

The body is unable to manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, so walnuts are an excellent source of this protective fat.  These fats can protect against heart disease, reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of cancer, improve the body's immune system response and improve cognitive function.  Walnuts also contain monounsaturated fats, which also protect the heart against cardiovascular disease by improving high levels of cholesterol.  Particularly important is the ability of walnuts to help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, in the blood.  Walnuts can contribute to the control or prevention of hypertension because they contain l-arginine, an amino acid that is converted into nitric oxide in the blood.  Nitric oxide helps to relax the blood vessels, reducing blood pressure levels. 

Free radicals can be neutralized by the phenols contained in walnuts.  Ellagic acid and gallic acid are particularly important ingredients.  An experimental diet showed positive effects when walnuts were eaten in high amounts.  During this experiment, patients experienced reduced levels of an inflammation marker known as C-reactive protein.  This protein is associated with the development of heart disease and atherosclerosis.  Participants also had increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids and decreased levels of a substance that helps cholesterol stick to the lining of the arteries. 

Warnings 

Avoid walnuts if you have had an allergic reaction or are allergic to similar foods.  If you have been told to avoid nuts and seeds due to a digestive system condition or intestinal surgery, do not eat walnuts.  If you are following a special diet for kidney disease, diabetes or another medical condition, consult a doctor before adding walnuts to your dietary intake.