Walnuts, a food native to Persia, now produced widely in California, have been a staple of a healthy diet for thousands of years.  Known to the Greeks as the ‘nut of Jupiter’, they were considered a food fit for the gods.  Today, walnuts remain at the top of the list of superfoods. 

 provide an array of health benefits. New evidence suggests that regular walnut consumption may contribute to longer life.  In a landmark study using data collected over 20 years, scientists with Harvard University discovered a link between eating more walnuts and a lower overall risk of death among older adults. This observational study looked at 60-year-old Americans.   The study was published in the journal Nutrients in 2021.  Compared to people who never ate walnuts, consuming five servings of walnuts per week resulted in: 

  • An approximate 1.3 year increase in life expectancy 
  • A 14% lower risk of death from any cause 
  • A 25% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease 

Walnuts contain healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and many different compounds with proven health benefits. Each one ounce serving of walnuts contains 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 45 grams of magnesium.  They also contain Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. ALA may improve blood lipids (fats) as well as the function of endothelial cells that line the arteries.  Walnut consumption has also been associated with reduced oxidative stress.  These nutritional contents may help explain walnuts’ contribution to healthy aging and longevity.   

Walnuts are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  One possible reason is that walnuts lower blood pressure, even among those with hypertension.  Walnuts also significantly lower lipid levels including LDL (bad) cholesterol by 4.3%.  The 1993 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that walnuts improve endothelial function in ways that are independent of cholesterol reduction. The American Heart Association states this improvement may be as high as 64% when walnuts were substituted for other fats in the Mediterranean diet.  

Walnuts may help lower blood glucose levels. In one trial, glucose levels were lowered by 8%. A flavonoid in walnuts called myricetin has been linked to antidiabetic effects due to its ability to enhance the activity of an insulin receptor.   

Walnut reduction in oxidative damage and inflammation in brain cells may improve memory, learning ability and lower depression.  

If you don’t love walnuts, try others. All true nuts grown on trees and are very healthy. Peanut, despite having ‘nut’ in it’s name is actually a legume.   

So get a handful nuts and add them regularly to your diet.  

Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560, www.diabetesmgtassociates.com, info@diabetesmgtassociates.com.  

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.