The Heath Benefits of Walnuts

Walnuts can help you fight cancer while you get a good night's sleep.

Walnuts can help you fight cancer while you get a good night's sleep.

Walnuts deliver so many health benefits, you should make a point of including them in your daily menu. Instead of adding them to muffins, cookies or cereal, you may reap the most benefits by eating a handful of them alone. From a healthy heart to sweet sleep, walnuts help you maintain a strong body.

Healthy Heart

Munching on walnuts is good for your heart, according to a study in the February 2012 issue of "Food and Function." According to the researchers from the University of Scranton, walnuts are loaded with plant chemicals called polyphenols. Walnut polyphenols benefit your heart by lowering your cholesterol, reducing inflammation in your body and increasing the activity of your endothelial cells, which repair and maintain the lining of your blood vessels and arteries. So grab some walnuts and work your way towards a healthy heart. Don't worry about your waistline, as researchers in the study also report that walnuts deliver these benefits without causing weight gain.

Brain Booster

When a fresh walnut is cut in half it resembles a human brain, and there may be a reason for that. A study published in the November 2011 issue of "Plant Foods For Human Nutrition" reports that the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts positively affect brain function. When rats consumed walnuts for 28 days they showed an increase in their learning ability and memory skills. Researchers also found another waistline benefit, as the rats that consumed walnuts decreased their overall food intake.

Breast Benefits

A 2012 report from Breastcancer.org.states that one out of eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer. Munching on walnuts may help prevent you from being part of that statistic. The omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants in walnuts work together to stop the development and growth of breast cancer cells, according to the April 2011 issue of "Nutrition and Cancer." Researchers state that if you eat 1/2 cup of walnuts per day, which is two servings, it is enough to limit the growth of breast cancer cells. When studied in mice, walnut consumption not only reduced the growth of breast cancer cells, they also prevented them from forming.

Sweet Sleep

Walnuts improve your health by helping you get a good night's sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your body's reproductive hormones, immune system and natural wake and sleep rhythm. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that low melatonin levels can disrupt your sleep cycle, and increasing your levels will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center, published in the September 2005 issue of "Nutrition," state that eating walnuts increases your body's melatonin levels. If you want a good night's sleep, munch on walnuts an hour or so before your bedtime.

 

About the Author

A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."

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