Do Walnuts help you lose weight? Here are the benefits and how to consume
The nut is a dried fruit of the walnut tree (Juglans Regia L), common in Europe and Asia.
Like the whole group of oilseeds, walnuts are very high in calories, at 620 kcal / 100 g, and only Brazil nuts (643 kcal / 100 g), according to the Brazilian Food Protocol (2011). It has an average of 60% fat, 14% protein (rich in arginine, which acts as a vasodilator that protects the cardiovascular system), and 7% dietary fiber (which helps with intestinal health). The lipid composition is characterized by a small number of saturated fats relative to other oilseeds, as well as polyunsaturated fats (MUFAs, oleic acid) and a very high amount of unsaturated fats – 75% of nut fat comes from this type of fat that covers omega-3).
It also has micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B1, B3, and B6. It is an excellent source of manganese and phosphorus, very important minerals in the body. Consumption of the recommended amount of walnuts per day, which is 4 units, produces a good percentage of the recommended amount for these micronutrients.
Nuts also contain several chemical compounds that enhance their antioxidant effect, improve the inflammatory profile, and act on oxidative stress (such as inhibiting LDL cholesterol oxidation and certain mechanisms that lead to certain cancers), such as:
- Tocopherols (such as alpha- and gamma-tocopherol – Fractions of vitamin E with high antioxidant activity)
- Polyphenols (especially non-flavonoid types such as ellagic acid and ellagitannins)
- Melatonin (we produce a natural source of the hormone, helps with sleep)
- Beta-sitosterol (a phytosterol with a chemical structure similar to cholesterol that can block its absorption in the gut and reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood).
Although the protection mechanism of nuts is not yet well known, several epidemiological studies have shown the positive effects of nut consumption.
In a 2012 study published in Food & Function, the authors found that walnuts had a significantly higher polyphenol content than other oilseeds, whether fresh or roasted. Oilseeds had an average of 3 times more antioxidant power than pure alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). The variation was 1.9 times more with cashews and 15 times more with nuts, indicating the antioxidant power of this food.
Some studies also mention that the consumption of oilseeds can increase the rate of metabolism and have a thermogenic effect, which helps in weight loss. In addition, recent studies show that the consumption of nuts reduces the risk of advanced neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease because they have neuroprotective components such as vitamin E, melatonin, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and omega-3, reducing and preventing memory and learning disabilities.
According to the results of some studies, the daily intake of nuts and other oilseeds is associated with a lower risk of cancer (breast, prostate, esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum) due to the high content of bioactive compounds in the group. Consumption of oilseeds at least 2 servings per week appear to reduce the risk of cancer.
Although the consumption of nuts has been reported to improve blood pressure and insulin resistance, there is no evidence to support this statement.
Nuts are not consumed in the recommended amount, although all the benefits already observed in the scientific literature would be beneficial. This is due to the difficulty of daily use of pure walnut due to food monotony. One of the factors that could help in the proper intake of a nut, as well as other oilseeds, would be its inclusion in other preparations such as vitamins, hot and salad cooking, bread, and cakes.
Excessive consumption of nuts can lead to weight gain due to the high-fat content of this fruit, as well as an imbalance in the blood fat profile.
The best way to consume walnuts is in fresh form without added salt. The consumer should be aware when buying oilseeds in general and avoid buying products to which exposure is due to the risk of contamination due to manipulation by other people and exposure to the environment – light, heat, moisture. It is best to buy oilseeds that are already in sealed packages.