The Healing Powers Of Walnuts
It may look like a simple little nut, but the brain-shaped walnut packs more than just a little punch on your taste buds. Walnuts for centuries have been used as medicines to assist with healing bruises, cures for stomach ailments, antidotes for poison, and cures for abscesses. The surprising fact is, modern science is also finding many uses for the walnut.
The History of Walnuts
The history of the Walnut can be traced back to the early Roman Empire where it was called “Jupiter’s royal acorn.” It was a delicacy reserved for only the wealthy. The Persian Silk Road helped to spread the nut throughout Asia and eastern countries, and eventually, it was called the Persian Walnut due to the expanding caravans. Throughout many years, the walnut’s name was changed to the English Walnut and eventually the Californian Walnut as growing and trading locations changed. Currently, 75 percent of the world’s trade for walnuts is based in California, United States. The popularity of the nut is partially due to the make-up of the walnut. It’s hard outer shell allowed it to be transported for hundreds of miles over many months without the meat inside spoiling. The delicious taste and versatility make this one of the world’s most special nuts.
Healthy Hearts from Walnuts
Just a small number of walnuts every day can be beneficial to improve heart health and reduce heart disease. The nuts contain two special nutrients that directly affect the heart and blood vessels; these are folate and arginine. Multiple studies have shown that folate works to reduce the hardening of the arteries and many women are encouraged to take folic acid supplementation to help reduce congenital heart defects in pregnancy. It also has been shown to decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Arginine is a lesser-known nutrient that is surprisingly very powerful. Arginine is an amino acid that helps to build protein in the body. It also is a vasodilator (it opens up and widens the blood vessels) which can help to relieve angina and lower blood pressure. Specifically, according to the Mayo Clinic, those who struggle with right-sided high blood pressure (pulmonary hypertension) may find relief through supplementation. Although walnuts are an oily nut, the nuts have been shown that these oils are the healthy fats that should be present in a healthy diet. The Medical College of Georgia studied these facts and concluded that even a diet that was rich in walnuts did not cause any additional weight gain.
Improving Mental Health With Walnuts
Walnuts’ shape resembles a brain, and it is a good reminder that these nuts are helpful for a person’s mental health. For those who struggle with depression, a small handful of walnuts may be beneficial to alleviate the symptoms. The omega-3 fatty acids that are present in walnuts help to form a soft fluid around nerve cells that transmit feelings and various sensations. The “feel good” hormones of Dopamine and Serotonin have often been found to be low in those with depression, but the walnuts can help to increase the fluid and assist the transmission of dopamine and serotonin. Children are also helped by walnuts. Those who struggle with attention and behavioral issues may be improved with a diet that is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Typically, omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon and oily fish, but getting kids to eat these foods every day or taking a bulky supplement can be difficult. Making a snack mix of walnuts can be a simple way to increase walnuts in a child’s diet.
Healing the Gut Through Walnuts
It can be challenging to realize that a simple nut can be an excellent way to have a healthy digestive tract, but the walnut can positively affect billions of bacteria in the gut and reduce cholesterol levels according to one pioneering study. For a diet that is usually high in the fats and carbohydrates, the Standard American Diet (SAD), the body will produce secondary bile acids in a futile attempt to deal with excess fats. These secondary bile acids are indicators that the there is inflammation in the gut from the body being unable to deal with the fats. This can be seen as weight gain, food sensitivities, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and leaky gut issues. Eating walnuts were found to help lower the secondary bile acids and promote positive (probiotic) bacteria development.
Similar to yogurt and Keifer, probiotics are healthy bacteria to fight against harmful bacteria. And while most people think that all bacteria need a ‘whopping dose of hand-sanitizer, this is not the case. To keep a body healthy against disease-causing microorganism, the body needs good bacteria to fight a strong battle. Walnuts also function as prebiotics to keep the colon (digestive tract) functioning properly. The best way to understand prebiotics is similar to working a job that you love and one that you hate. Both positions will pay your bills, but only one (the prebiotic) will make your life enjoyable.
They say that there are moments that open up your life like a walnut cracked, that change your point of view so that you never look at things the same way again. Jodi Picoult
Reproductive Health from Walnuts
Men and women who are wanting to have children can be helped by a nutritious diet full of walnuts. The manganese present in walnuts is vital for the hypothalamus to produce the hormones needed for reproduction. Oxford Research explains that female reproduction is a delicate balance amongst the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the ovaries. All three are interdependent to produce the right hormones at the right time for the creation of an egg and release of the egg ready for fertilization.
For men, walnuts were discovered to be very helpful. With just two and a half ounces of walnuts a day, sperm had a better shape according to the UCLA School of Nursing. The shape of sperm is indicative of DNA chromosomal disorders. A quality shaped sperm indicates a health sperm versus a misshapen one that would not be able to produce a child.
What is the Best Way to Eat Walnuts?
The best walnuts are ones that are fresh and white-colored in appearance. If they are rancid or yellow in color, they should be thrown out. Freshly cracked nuts are better than packaged nuts, but the packaged nuts are still ok to be eaten. Of course, unsalted walnuts should be eaten instead of the roasted, salted, or sugar-sweetened nuts.
The next time you see a brain-shaped nut, also known as the walnut, remember that this nut is helpful for your entire body. Your brain, heart, digestive tract, and future children can all be positively affected by the walnut. Superpowers are not just for the movies, but they are also present in walnuts. Enjoy a good handful today!
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