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Walnuts (Juglans regia) are a tree nut belonging to the walnut family.

They originated in the Mediterranean region and Central Asia, and have been part of the human diet for thousands of years.

These nuts are rich in omega-3 fats and contain higher amounts of antioxidants than most other foods. Eating walnuts may improve brain health while also helping to prevent heart disease and cancer (1).

Walnuts are most often eaten on their own as a snack. However, they can also be added to salads, pastas, breakfast cereals, soups and baked goods.

They are also used to make walnut oil, an expensive culinary oil often used in salad dressings. They are sometimes referred to as common walnuts, English walnuts or Persian walnuts.

Another related species of commercial interest is the eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra), which is native to North America.

Nutrition Facts

Walnuts are made up of 65% fat and small amounts of protein (only about 15%). They are low in carbs, most of which consist of fiber.

The table below contains information on the nutrients in walnuts (2):

General information
Water4 %
Protein15.2 g
Carbs13.7 g
Sugar2.6 g
Fiber6.7 g
Fat65.2 g
Saturated6.13 g
Monounsaturated8.93 g
Polyunsaturated47.17 g
Omega-39.08 g
Omega-638.09 g
Trans fat~


Walnuts contain about 65% fat by weight (2).

Like other nuts, most of the energy (calories) in walnuts comes from fat. This makes them an energy-dense, high-calorie food.

However, even though walnuts are rich in fat and calories, studies indicate that they do not increase the risk of obesity when replacing other foods in the diet (34).

Walnuts are also richer than most other nuts in polyunsaturated fats. The most abundant one is an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid.

They also contain a relatively high percentage of a healthy omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This makes up around 8–14% of the total fat content (2567).

In fact, walnuts are the only nuts that contain significant amounts of ALA (8).

ALA is considered to be especially beneficial for heart health. It also helps reduce inflammation and improve the composition of blood fats (89).

ALA is also a precursor for the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have been linked with numerous health benefits (10).

BOTTOM LINE:Walnuts are primarily made up of polyunsaturated fat. They contain a relatively high percentage of omega-3 fat, which has been linked with various health benefits.

Vitamins and Minerals

Walnuts are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Copper: This mineral promotes heart health. It also helps maintain bone, nerve and immune system function (1112).
  • Folic acid: Also known as folate or vitamin B9, folic acid has many important biological functions. A folic acid deficiency during pregnancy may cause birth defects (1314).
  • Phosphorus: About 1% of our body is made up of phosphorus, a mineral that is mainly present in bones. It has numerous functions in the body (15).
  • Vitamin B6: This vitamin may strengthen the immune system and support nerve health. A vitamin B6 deficiency may cause anemia (16).
  • Manganese: This trace mineral is found in the highest amounts in nuts, whole grainsfruits and vegetables.
  • Vitamin E: Compared to other nuts, walnuts contain high levels of a special form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol (1718).
BOTTOM LINE:Walnuts are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. These include copper, folic acid, phosphorus, vitamin B6, manganese and vitamin E.

Other Plant Compounds

Walnuts contain a complex mixture of bioactive plant compounds.

They are exceptionally rich in antioxidants, which are concentrated in the thin, brown skin (19).

In fact, walnuts ranked second in a study investigating the antioxidant content of 1113 foods commonly eaten in the US (20).

Some notable plant compounds found in walnuts include:

  • Ellagic acid: This antioxidant is found in high amounts in walnuts, along with other related compounds like ellagitannins. Ellagic acid may reduce the risk of heart disease and help suppress cancer formation (212223).
  • Catechin: Catechin is a flavonoid antioxidant that may have various health benefits. It may also promote heart health (192425).
  • Melatonin: This neurohormone helps regulate the body clock. It is also a powerful antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart disease (262728).
  • Phytic acid: Also known as phytate, phytic acid may impair the absorption of minerals, such as iron and zinc, from the digestive tract (29).
BOTTOM LINE:Walnuts are one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants. These include ellagic acid, ellagitannins, catechin and melatonin.

Health Benefits of Walnuts

Eating walnuts has been linked to a number of health benefits. These include a reduced risk of heart disease, possible cancer prevention and improved brain function.

Heart Health

Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is a broad term used for chronic diseases related to the heart and blood vessels.

In many cases, heart disease may be prevented with healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nuts (303132).

Walnuts are no exception. In fact, many studies have shown that eating walnuts may combat risk factors for heart disease by:

  • Lowering LDL, the “bad” cholesterol (3334353637).
  • Reducing inflammation (836).
  • Improving the function of blood vessels, cutting the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries (383940).
These effects are likely caused by the beneficial fat composition of walnuts as well as their rich antioxidant content.
BOTTOM LINE:Walnuts are a rich source of antioxidants and healthy fats. They may also reduce several of the risk factors for heart disease, especially when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits.

Cancer Prevention

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by abnormal cell growth.

Many forms of cancer can be prevented by eating healthy food, exercising and avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Since they are a rich source of beneficial plant compounds, walnuts could be an effective part of a cancer-preventive diet (41).

Walnuts contain several bioactive components that may have anti-cancer properties. These include:

  • Phytosterols (4243).
  • Gamma-tocopherol (44).
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (454647).
  • Ellagic acid and related compounds (2348).
  • Various antioxidant polyphenols (49).
Observational studies have linked the regular consumption of nuts with a lower risk of colon and prostate cancer ( 5051).

This is supported by animal studies indicating that eating walnuts may suppress cancer growth in the breasts, prostate, colon and kidneys (49525354).

However, before any stronger claims can be made, these effects need to be confirmed by clinical studies in humans.

BOTTOM LINE:Walnut consumption may lower the risk of certain types of cancer. However, further studies are needed before any solid conclusions can be reached.

Brain Health

Several human studies indicate that eating nuts may improve brain function. They also show that walnuts can help with depression and age-related decline in brain function ( 5556).

A study of elderly people linked regular consumption of walnuts with significant memory improvement (57). However, these studies were observational and therefore can’t prove that walnuts were the cause of improvements in brain function. Stronger evidence is provided by studies that investigate the effect of eating walnuts directly. One 8-week study of 64 young, healthy adults, found that eating walnuts improved comprehension. However, significant improvements in non-verbal reasoning, memory and mood were not detected (58).

Nevertheless, walnuts have also been shown to improve brain function in animals.

In another study, mice with Alzheimer’s disease were fed walnuts every day for 10 months. Their memory and learning skills improved significantly (59).

Similarly, studies of elderly rats found that eating walnuts for eight weeks reversed age-related impairments in brain function (6061).

These effects are probably due to the high antioxidant content of walnuts. However, their omega-3 fatty acids may also play a role (6162).

BOTTOM LINE:A walnut-rich diet may improve brain function and possibly slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the evidence is limited and further human studies are needed.

Adverse Effects and Individual Concerns

In general, walnuts are very healthy. However, some people may be allergic to them.

Walnuts can also reduce mineral absorption in certain individuals.

Walnut Allergy

Walnuts are among the eight most allergenic foods ( 63).

Additionally, the symptoms of a walnut allergy are typically severe. Walnuts sometimes cause an allergic shock (anaphylaxis), which can be fatal without treatment.

Individuals with a walnut allergy need to avoid these nuts completely.

Reduced Mineral Absorption

Like all seeds, walnuts are high in phytic acid ( 64).

Phytic acid, or phytate, is a plant substance that impairs the absorption of minerals, such as iron and zinc, from the digestive tract. This only applies to meals that contain high-phytate foods.

Individuals that follow diets rich in phytic acid but low in iron and zinc may be at a higher risk of developing mineral deficiencies.

BOTTOM LINE:Walnuts are exceptionally healthy. However, some people may be very allergic to them. Walnuts may also reduce mineral absorption in some individuals.


Walnuts are rich in heart-healthy fats and high in antioxidants.

Additionally, regular consumption of walnuts may improve brain health and help prevent heart disease and cancer.

These nuts are easily incorporated into the diet, since they can be eaten on their own or added to many different foods.

Simply put, eating walnuts may be one of the easiest things you can do to improve your health.


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Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, dating back to 7,000 B.C. (CLAES TORSTENSSON/ISTOCKPHOTO)

Here are 10 reasons why the walnut should be part of your daily diet:

1. They contain omega-3s and other “healthy fats.”

Unique among nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid. As one of the best plant food sources of omega-3s, a 1-oz serving of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of ALA. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates these omega-3s provide benefits to the brain and heart while tempering inflammation throughout the body.

2. They’re a nutritional powerhouse.

An ounce of walnuts (about seven shelled or 14 halves) is brimming with nutrients that are essential for optimal health. In addition to essential ALA/omega-3 fatty acids, a serving provides a one-two punch of protein (4 grams) and fiber (2 grams), nutrients known to increase satiety or feelings of fullness. They’re also a good source of magnesium and phosphorus that can benefit muscle function and bone mass, respectively. 

3. They’re delicious and versatile.

If you think of walnuts only when baking cookies or banana bread, you’re missing out. They’re a versatile ingredient for all types of dishes – from appetizers and soups to main dishes and desserts. Try pumping up the nutrition of your oatmeal, salads, snacks, main dishes and even sweet treats with this nutty nutritional powerhouse. For a perfect “anytime” snack, try these Parmesan-Herbed Walnuts.

4. They’re prehistoric.

Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, dating back to 7,000 B.C. The ancient Greeks and Romans were well aware that walnuts had special health benefits and wrote extensively of their medicinal uses.

5. They help keep your mind sharp. 

Preliminary studies suggest walnuts may play a role in helping maintain and improve brain health. An animal-model study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a diet containing as much as 6% walnuts (equivalent to one ounce per day in people) was able to reverse age-related motor and cognitive decline in animals. Results from another study suggested that adding walnuts to the diets of mice helped reduce their risk and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.

6. They’re California grown.

Although walnuts have only been commercially grown in the US since the 1860s, today California-grown walnuts account for 99 percent of the U.S. supply – and three-quarters of world trade.

7. They’re waistline-friendly.

According to recent studies, eating walnuts won’t lead to weight gain, and they may help reduce belly fat when they’re part of a calorie-controlled eating plan. Thanks to their protein, fiber and fat content, walnuts help keep you fuller longer.

8. They’re smart for your heart.

For decades, dozens of studies have confirmed that walnuts help reduce your risk for heart disease. In fact, there is so much evidence that walnuts provide heart-health benefits that they were one of the first foods to receive a qualified health claim about their heart-health benefits from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Here are some of their cardioprotective benefits:

• Reducing total cholesterol

• Lowering harmful LDL cholesterol

• Raising beneficial HDL cholesterol

• Decreasing blood pressure

• Reducing inflammation

• Improving blood vessel function

9. They stay fresher longer when kept cold.

Walnuts will go rancid if they are stored in warm temperatures, but if kept in the fridge, they’ll last for weeks. Fresh walnuts smell mildly nutty and taste sweet, but those that are bad will smell like paint thinner. Extend freshness by keeping walnuts in the refrigerator or, if you’ll be storing them for a month or longer, keep them in your freezer.

 10. You can make walnut “milk.”

While you may have tried almond and cashew milk, you can easily make your own walnut milk with this recipe. It’s delicious and is a great creamy and nutty base for smoothies.

11. They may help your bones.

While calcium-rich foods are essential for bone health, research suggests alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 provides bone-boosting benefits.

One study published in Nutrition Journal found that used ALA/omega-3s from walnuts and flaxseed reported a reduction in bone loss over a six-week period when these omega-3s were added to the diet.


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The health benefits of walnuts include a reduction of bad cholesterol in the body, an improvement in metabolism, and control of diabetes. Other important health benefits of walnuts stem from the fact that these nuts possess anti-inflammatory properties, aid in weight management, and help as a mood booster. They are also believed to slow down the spread of cancer.

What Are Walnuts?

Walnuts are edible seeds from the trees of the Juglans genus. They are round, single-seeded fruits of the walnut tree. The fruit and the seed of the walnut are enclosed in a thick, inedible husk. The shell of the fruit that encloses the kernel is hard and two-halved. The seed of the walnut fruits contain significant amounts of nutrients such as proteins, EFAs (essential fatty acids), carbohydrates, vitamins, and essential minerals.

Walnuts have always been considered as ‘Brain Food, perhaps because the surface structure of the walnut has a crinkly appearance like that of the brain. Due to this reason, they have been considered as a symbol of intelligence, leading to the belief that they actually increase one’s intellect. While this is not exactly true, recent scientific studies have proven that the consumption of walnuts does help in promoting brain function. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which increase the activity of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids coupled with iodine and selenium add to ensuring optimum functioning of the brain.

Along with their delicious taste, walnuts have antioxidants and proteins that help in imparting a multitude of health benefits. They are also a delicious supplement and therefore can be easily included in anyone’s diet. They are also considered as ‘Power food’, since they are believed to improve body stamina.

Walnut Facts

Walnuts have been known to mankind for a long time. Some interesting facts about walnuts include the following:

Walnut trees have been known to mankind since 7000 B.C.

Two-thirds of the world’s walnut production happens in California.

One can see crinkles in walnuts both inside and outside.

Nutritional Value Of Walnuts

Thomas and Gebhardt (2006) have conducted extensive research on the nutritional facts about walnuts that has been reported by the USDA National Nutrient Database for standard reference. The important nutritional facts from this research are listed below.

Nutritional value includes energy of 190 cal in 1 ounce, or 30 grams, of walnuts.

Carbohydrate content per 1 ounce is 4 grams.

Protein found in 1 ounce is 4 grams.

The total fat content found in 1 ounce is 18 grams, which includes both unsaturated fats and saturated fats.

Dietary fiber found in them is about 2 grams per ounce.

The minerals found in them include calciumironmagnesium, phosphorous, potassiumsodiumzinccoppermanganese, and selenium.

Vitamins include vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavinniacinpantothenic acidvitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12vitamin Evitamin K, and vitamin A. Carotenoids found in them includes beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Phytosterols in walnuts are about 20 mg per 1 ounce.

Health Benefits Of Walnuts

There are several health benefits of walnuts. The important ones established by research over the years are listed below.

Improvement in heart function: Walnuts are rich in omega-3 and are an ample source of monounsaturated fatty acids (72%) like oleic acid. It also contains EFAs like linoleic acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), and arachidonic acids. Scientific studies prove that the inclusion of walnuts in any diet helps prevent coronary heart diseases by favoring a healthy lipid supply. Their consumption lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases level of good cholesterol (HDL). Daily consumption of 25 grams of walnuts would provide 90% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of EFAs, which in turn lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases.

Improved Bone Health: EFAs from walnuts secure the bone health of the body. These increase calcium absorption and deposition, while reducing urinary calcium excretion.

Improved Metabolism: One of the health benefits of walnuts consumption is that it improves the metabolism in the body. They, along with EFAs, provide minerals to the body. Minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium are also provided by them. These minerals help contribute to metabolic activities like growth and development, sperm generation, digestion, and nucleic acid synthesis.

Control of Diabetes: People suffering from diabetes can have walnuts on a regular basis without any significant weight gain, since they contain a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, as per research conducted by Gillen et al. (2005) at the University of Wollongong, Australia. In an article titled “The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk”, by Lovejoy (2005) it is mentioned that the intake of nuts is inversely proportional to the risk of developing type-II diabetes.

Fight Against Cancer: Some of the components present in walnuts have the capability of controlling the growth of cancer cells in the body. The phenolic compounds and antioxidants found in them recorded a control on human cancer cells, according to the research conducted by Carvalho et al. (2010) from the University of Portugal.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The polyphenolic compounds and phytochemical substances found in walnuts reduce the effects of inflammation in the body. This finding was a result of an experiment conducted in the Mediterranean area by Papoutsi et al. (2008).


Rich in gamma-tocopherol, walnuts are also a good source of vitamin E, which is a strong lipid soluble antioxidant. The vitamin E present in them helps in maintaining and protecting the skin from free radicals that are harmful in nature. They are also an important source of B-complex vitamins such as folate, niacin, riboflavin, panthothenic acid, and vitamin B-6.

Bio-Available Melatonin: Want a good night’s sleep? Eat some walnuts soaked in water before sleeping or eat a salad or any other dish using walnuts as toppings. Melatonin, a hormone that helps induce and regulate sleep, is available in them in a bio-available form. Thus, they help make for a perfect dinner that leads you to a great, restful sleep.

Weight Management: The amount of fat, calories, and carbohydrate content found in walnuts is about 18 grams, 190 cal, and 4 grams, respectively per 1 ounce. Therefore, it is believed that walnut consumption may result in weight gain. However, research conducted by Sabaté et al. (2005) at the Loma Linda University, California, USA have shown that walnut consumption of about 35 grams per day did not result in any significant weight gain among tested individuals over a period of 1 year.

Mood Booster: A scientific study indicates that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids (provided by walnuts) cause hyperactivity, irritability, and tantrums. Supplementing a child’s diet with walnuts compensates the deficit in EFAs and alleviates their mood. It is even applicable to adults who are battling depression and stress.

Astringent Properties: Walnut oils have significant astringent properties. Walnut oil has a rich, nutty flavor that helps bring aroma and flavor to the food. This flavor gives a pleasant taste, but only when the walnut oil is used in moderation. It is used as a carrier/base oil in various therapies like aromatherapymassage therapy, as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. Walnut oils are terrific as dressings on chicken, turkey, salads, pasta, fish and steaks. The uses of walnut oils in dessert recipes help bring a nutty flavor to the dish. A 35 gram serving of walnut oil provides the same nutritional benefits as 50 grams of walnuts. They also provide significant levels of Vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-3.

How Can You Add Walnuts Into Your Healthy Diet?

Walnuts can be integrated into your diet to gain from all the associated health benefits. A few ways to add them to your meal are as follows:

Add shredded walnuts to chicken and fish right before cooking them.

Ground some walnuts and use the powder on sandwiches, salads, or any other dish.

Add chopped/shredded walnuts to desserts to add a nutty flavor to it or

Add chopped/shredded walnuts to yogurt and berries to make a healthy dessert.

To roast walnuts, use a 70-75°c oven for 15-20 minutes.