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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Calories >>  Walnuts

Calories In Walnuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E and hence are a highly nutritious snack. You can lower your risk of heart disease by eating a handful of nuts every day. However, walnuts also contain a considerable amount of calories and hence it is important to eat them in moderation.

Nutrition And Calories In Walnuts

One handful or one ounce of walnuts contains 4.32 mg of protein, 1.9 mg of fiber and 185 calories. Walnuts also supply other nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, arginine, melatonin and polyphenols. It is quite easy to finish a whole packet of nuts before realizing it and hence you need to exercise caution and eat only a handful at a time.

Due to the calories in walnuts, you may gain weight easily. It is advisable to eat about one ounce of walnuts five times a week.

Health Benefits Of Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of energy and are full of many essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here are some important health benefits of walnuts;

  • Walnuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid and are rich in all omega-3 fatty acids such as alpha linolenic acid and linolenic acid. Those who regularly consume walnuts experience a decrease in the LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and an increase in HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol levels. A diet rich in beneficial fatty acids helps to protect against heart disease and stroke. Consuming 25 grams of walnuts each day supplies your body with almost 90 percent of the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to prevent inflammation, high blood pressure and certain types of cancers.
  • Walnuts contain phyto-chemicals substances which are known for their antioxidant properties. These substances include carotenoids, vitamin E, melatonin and polyphenols which help to prevent premature ageing, inflammatory diseases and neurological disorders.
  • The high levels of vitamin E in walnuts help to maintain the integrity of the cell membranes. Vitamin E also protects the skin cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Eating foods rich in vitamin E also helps to prevent some types of cancer.
  • Walnuts are loaded with B vitamins such as vitamin B9 and B6. The vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, assists in healthy metabolism and digestion. It also aids in the synthesis of DNA since it is involved in the production of nucleotides which adhere together and create genetic material. Folic acid boosts brain functioning and regulates mood. Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine enables the nerve cells in the brain to communicate effectively with surrounding cells through chemical signals. Deficiencies of vitamin B6 may lead to depression.
  • There are many essential minerals found in walnuts such as potassium, copper, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. Copper and zinc are co-factors in several enzymes which are involved in growth and digestion.
  • Walnut oil is known for its astringent properties. It helps to protect the skin from dryness and may be used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy.

Buying And Storing Walnuts

When buying shelled walnuts, choose the heavier ones. Make sure that the shells are not cracked or stained as this may be indicative of mold growth in the nut. Such nuts are not safe to eat. You can opt for shelled walnuts as well. These are usually available in pre-packaged packets or in bulk containers. When buying them in bulk, ensure that the nuts have been stored in hygienic conditions and have been kept covered. Avoid nuts that look shriveled or dried out. You can also smell the nuts to make sure that they have not turned rancid.

Since walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats, they can perish quickly and hence shelled walnuts must be stored in airtight containers. When stored properly, walnuts can be kept for up to six months. You can even store them in the freezer for a maximum of one year. It is advisable to keep unshelled walnuts in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark and dry place.

Preparing Walnuts

You can eat walnuts plain or add them to oatmeal, sauces, curries and desserts. It is advisable to consume walnuts along with the skin. The skin is the flaky, whitish part which is visible after the nuts have been shelled. Studies have indicates that the skin contains about 90 percent of the beneficial phenols found in walnuts. Walnut skin may be slightly bitter to taste, but most health experts encourage keeping the skin on.

Some people are allergic to walnuts. An allergic reaction occurs when the body reacts adversely to a protein found in the nuts.  A walnut allergy may result in symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and wheezing. For some people, the reaction may be severe and may lead to increase in heart rate and breathing difficulty. In such cases, immediate medical attention is necessary.

Submitted on January 16, 2014