From heart health to thyroid control: Let's crack open into the world of Walnuts

Early history indicates that English walnuts came from ancient Persia, where they were reserved for royalty. Thus, the walnut is often known as the "Persian Walnut and the Romans called walnuts "Jupiter's royal acorn."
 
 
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DELHI, India - Dec. 31, 2018 - PRLog -- Walnuts were traded along the Silk Road route between Asia and the Middle East. Caravans carried walnuts to far off lands and eventually through sea trade, spreading the popularity of the walnut around the world. English merchant marines transported the product for trade to ports around the world and they became known as "English Walnuts."

Walnuts scientifically known as Juglans regia, is primarily grown in China, United States, Iran, Turkey, Mexico, Ukraine, Chile, and other, India too produces walnuts in small quantities in hilly terrains of Jammu and Kashmir. Varieties of walnuts are grown for different commercial purposes like black walnuts, Persian walnuts, Japanese walnut, and butternut, with similar or close nutrient profiles.

Nutrient Profile

Walnuts are energy dense nuts made up of a high amount of protein, polyunsaturated fat, dietary fiber, B-complex vitamins like Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E.

Walnuts are an exceptional vegetarian source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Walnuts are also rich in antioxidants, including being a very good source of manganese, copper, and molybdenum.

Health Benefits

Researchers are convinced—more than ever before—about the nutritional benefits of walnuts. Phytonutrient research on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of walnuts has ranked walnuts as an excellent food in the world's healthiest food rating. They are known to benefit against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems, and type 2 diabetes. Numerous researches have been conducted across the globe and have had given enough citation attributing to the health benefits of this Royal Nut.

Testimonies from the World of Researchers:

Polyphenols - An exploration beyond walnut's lipid profile: Traditionally, walnuts have been known for their lipid profile, which has been linked to a wide array of health-promoting effects. In addition to essential fatty acids, walnuts contain a variety of other bioactive compounds, such as vitamin E and polyphenols. The main polyphenol in walnuts is pedunculagin, which possess well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bioactivity, and several studies have assessed the potential role of polyphenol against disease initiation and progression, including cancer, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. See PMID 26713565 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26713565)

2.     Maintain brain health with age: Lifestyle factors greatly affect the progression of cognitive decline, primary prevention in many of these neurodegenerative diseases could be achieved earlier in life by consuming a healthy diet. Research papers have been published over a period of time, which demonstrate that Polyphenolic compounds found in walnuts not only reduce the oxidant and inflammatory load on brain cells but also improve interneuronal signaling, increase neurogenesis, and enhance sequestration of insoluble toxic protein aggregates. (See PMID research papers of November 2011 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22048906), April 2014 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24500933), June 2016 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25747270), and January 2017 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5222811/)).

3.     Walnuts decrease risk of cardiovascular disease: Research by Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24500935), has shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (by ~9-16%) and blood pressure (diastolic blood pressure by ∼2-3 mm Hg), 2 major risk factors for Cardio-Vascular Diseases. In addition, walnuts improve endothelial function, decrease both oxidative stress and some markers of inflammation, and increase cholesterol efflux.

Walnuts and Obesity: A randomly assigned two 8 weeks trial (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3756625/) of forty-six overweight adults with elevated waist circumference and 1 or more additional signs of metabolic syndrome were randomly walnut-enriched ad libitum diet and ad libitum diet without walnuts, which were separated by a 4-week washout period. The primary outcome measure was the change in flow-mediated vasodilation, which improved significantly. Concluding that daily ingestion of 56 g of walnuts improves endothelial function in overweight adults with visceral adiposity. The addition of walnuts to the diet does not lead to weight gain.
Walnuts and Diabetes: India currently represents 49 percent of world's diabetes burden and is often titled as Diabetic capital of the world.   Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews published research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29927053) on adults conducting 24-hour dietary recall was pooled across the years 1999 through 2014. After adjustment for covariates, walnut consumers showed a lower risk for diabetes compared with non-nut consumers.

This Persian royalty should be consumed as a staple diet when lifestyle factors negatively impacting the progression of cognitive decline, with high-risk behaviors including unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and exposure to environmental toxins leading to enhanced oxidative stress and inflammation. There exists an urgent need to develop effective treatments for age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disease.

It is one thing to be aware of the science-based facts and encourage people to eat healthy foods but actually quite another to help them afford them. Study after study proves that the health products like walnuts can lead to healthy heart, lower the risk of obesity, type – 2 diabetes, but, unfortunately for many, it still remains a product for royals and rich of the society. Mr. Amit Lohani, Founder Director, the Forum of Indian Food Importers stated, "We did a market survey to study if health nuts like walnuts and almonds are consumed in routine and shocking findings show that the consumption is still limited to few sections of our society. On one hand, as an association, we put in efforts to educate the consumer about healthy food choices and related benefits while on other we ironically learn how they still remain out of bounds of the common man." He said, "high product cost of health nuts remains a big hindrance and we request the government to have a holistic approach where we are able to offer safe, high quality, and healthy food items at affordable prices, which eventually will have a positive impact on the health of the nation."
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