Diet & Nutrition
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Diet & Nutrition

Boost Your Brainpower with Walnuts: The Brain Food

You must have seen many fruits, nuts, and vegetables that show resemblance to our human body and body parts. They have specific functions in the body and have great nutritional properties and health benefits. One such example is Walnut.

Walnut is the top nut for brain health. It exhibits very similar features to a human brain. Walnuts have distinct left and right hemispheres, wrinkles, or folds just like our brain’s cerebral cortex and are even enclosed in a hard shell just like our skull. In the average adult, the brain is about 60% fat. The remaining 40% is a combination of water, protein, carbohydrates, and salts. It contains blood vessels and nerves, including glial cells and an average of 86 billion neurons! The brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress because it consumes 20% of the total body intake of oxygen (due to its higher energy requirement), and it has limited antioxidant capacity and higher amounts of unsaturated lipids. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of free radical levels and antioxidant defense in the body. Increased levels of free radicals are toxic, and if they are not removed, they react with lipids, protein, and nucleic acids in the cell and damage cellular functions. Increased oxidative damage eventually leads to cell death. Some of the common neurological and brain diseases are- Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, brain cancer or tumors, epilepsy, seizures, mental disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and other movement disorders.

Walnuts have a high content of antioxidants, including flavonoids, phenolic acid, melatonin, folate, Vitamin E, selenium, and proanthocyanins. In addition, walnuts contain a high amount of n-3 α-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that has a highly potent anti-inflammatory effect. Walnuts also provide good protein, fiber, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Here are 6 health benefits of Walnuts-

1. Good for the heart: Walnuts have higher antioxidant activity than any other common nut. A preliminary, small study in healthy adults showed that eating a walnut-rich meal prevented oxidative damage of “bad” LDL cholesterol after eating, whereas a refined-fat meal. That’s beneficial because oxidized LDL is prone to build up in your arteries, causing atherosclerosis and heart diseases. Additional research has found that people with walnuts and walnut oil in their diets have lower resting blood pressure as well as lower blood pressure responses to stress in the environment.

2. Shows Anti-inflammatory properties: Inflammation is at the root of many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer can be caused by oxidative stress. The polyphenols in walnuts can help fight this oxidative stress and inflammation.

3. Promotes a healthy Gut system: Beneficial bacteria in your gut convert ellagitannins to compounds called urolithins, which have been found to protect against inflammation. ALA omega-3 fat, magnesium, and the amino acid arginine in walnuts may also decrease inflammation. An unhealthy composition of your microbiota can contribute to inflammation and disease in your gut and elsewhere in your body, increasing your risk of obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Including walnuts in your diet shows an increase in bacteria that produce butyrate, a fat that nourishes your gut and promotes gut health.

4. Supports healthy Ageing: As you age, good physical functioning is essential for maintaining your mobility and independence. One thing that may help maintain your physical abilities is healthy eating habits. Though high in calories, walnuts are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats, and plant compounds that may help support good physical functioning as you age. Observational studies in older adults have linked eating walnuts to better brain function, including faster processing speed, more mental flexibility, and better memory power.

5. Improves good fat levels in the blood: Elevated levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides have long been linked to an increased heart disease risk. Regularly eating walnuts has been consistently shown to decrease bad cholesterol levels.

6. Boosts your brainpower: Several 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. A study in older adults linked regular consumption of walnuts with significant memory improvement. Among other things, walnut has been shown to protect brain health in new-born, improve cognitive performance in adults, and prevent age-related cognitive decline. One study shows that mothers who get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their diet have smarter kids. Just a quarter cup of walnuts provides nearly 100% of the recommended daily intake of DHA.

Walnuts are an exceptionally nutrient-dense nut. They have higher antioxidant activity and significantly more healthy omega-3 fats than any other common nut. This rich nutrient profile promotes many health benefits associated with brain health, reduced inflammation, and risk factors for heart disease.

There are many interesting ways to add walnuts to your diet. Here are a few tips on how to use them- You could sprinkle them in your green salads, ground them in dips and spreads, chop and bake in whole-grain bread, serve them as topping on oatmeal, or add to your favorite yogurt with fruits and berries, chop them and add to wraps and sandwiches, roast them to make a homemade snack mix, sprinkle on your pasta and vegetables. Enjoy! 😊


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