Walnuts are particularly rich in omega-3s, vitamin E, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals that are good for brain health. Regularly consumption of walnuts may reduce the risk or even the progression of brain disorders, such as dementia, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3s of walnuts are vital for good brain function
The human brain is nearly 60% fat. So, there is no surprise that essential fatty acids are among the most crucial compounds for brain health. As, the human body can’t synthesize essential fatty acids, we should consume them from food. Above all, omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain development and for proper brain function.
Essential fatty acids are part of both the synthesis and function of brain neurotransmitters. Brain neurotransmitters are responsible for the communication between cells. They’re absolutely vital for good brain health.
Therefore, consuming adequate amounts of omega-3s may improve cognitive performance in adults and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
There are 3 main types of omega-3 fatty acids. EPA, DHA and ALA. ALA is found in plants. On the contrary, EPA and DHA come mainly from seafood and algae supplements. ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA, although this process isn’t efficient. So, we should better consume EPA and DHA directly from food or supplements. DHA is necessary for the proper function of the brain. Moreover, DHA seems to improve mental development!
You can find DHA & EPA supplements from algae on Amazon.
Walnuts, along with flaxseeds, are the best plant-based foods rich in omega-3s. Try to eat them regularly.
Although, both omega-6s and omega-3s are good for brain health, the standard American diet is particularly rich in omega-6s. On the contrary, it lacks of omega-3s. The ideal omega-6:omega-3 ratio should be 1. Unfortunately, every low quality vegetable oil contains high amounts of omega-6s. So, the omega-6:omega-3 ration is usually greater than 15. High amounts of omega-6s lead to chronic inflammation.
Therefore, if you want to protect your brain from cognitive diseases, increase omega-3 consumption and reduce the consumption of refined oils. Great dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds. See the whole list here.
Walnuts protect the brain from oxidative stress
Walnuts are good for brain health, due to their high antioxidant content. Firstly, omega-3s have powerful antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that omega-3s can fight effectively oxidative stress and inflammation. Both are common causes of cognitive decline!
Furthermore, walnuts are particularly high in polyphenolic compounds. Potent antioxidants, as well. Actually, walnuts contain more polyphenolic compounds than any other nut. Therefore, eating walnuts regularly is important for good brain function.
On the other hand, bad diet, smoking, environmental pollution, and land lack of exercise are common causes that increase the risk of cognitive decline. Certainly, prevention is the key. A healthy diet could help. For instance, a whole food plant-based diet is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. These compounds are important for good brain health, as they:
- reduce the oxidant and inflammatory load on brain cells,
- improve interneuronal signaling,
- increase neurogenesis.
Eating foods high in antioxidants is vital for the brain, as the brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress! The brain consumes about 20% of the total body intake of oxygen. It has extreme energy requirements. On the other hand, the brain has limited antioxidant capacity. Therefore, eating walnuts and other foods rich in antioxidants is necessary for good brain health.
Consuming foods high in antioxidants is great for overall health, as they fight inflammation and oxidative stress. Chronic inflammation has been linked with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and even hypertension! Fruits, vegetables, and herbs are the best sources of antioxidants.
Moreover, walnuts are so effective against age-related diseases, as they contain so many components that act synergistically. For instance, walnuts contain flavonoids, phenolic acid, melatonin, folate, vitamin E, selenium, juglone, and proanthocyanidins. Walnuts have about 3.68 mmol/oz of antioxidants. It’s considered a pretty high antioxidant content. Actually, walnuts have the highest antioxidant content per serving size, among thousands of other common foods. They’re second only to blackberries.
But, why does the risk of cognitive decline increase with age? Because, the human body becomes less effective into neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are natural byproducts of the body metabolism. Excess amounts of free radicals cause oxidation and inflammation. Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as walnuts, is the best way to neutralize free radicals. Hence, prevent brain diseases.
Most noteworthy, follow a whole food plant-based diet to boost your antioxidant content. Furthermore, amla powder is the richest common food in antioxidants. By far… You can buy amla powder on Amazon.
Vitamin E for good brain health
Moreover, among the most powerful antioxidants is vitamin E. Walnuts are good sources of vitamin E, as well. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, neuroprotector and it has anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists have found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of vitamin E. So, consuming foods rich in vitamin E may be good against Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
The daily recommended dose of vitamin E is 15 mg. 1 handful of English walnuts contains 6.7 mg of vitamin E. Moreover, 1 handful of black walnuts contains 9.4 mg of vitamin E. The high vitamin E content of walnuts is good for your hair, as well.
Electrolytes in walnuts are good for brain function
Furthermore, good function of the brain demands proper hydration. In other words, we need to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. Certainly, drinking plain water isn’t enough for good hydration. We should replenish electrolytes, as well. Electrolytes are crucial for the good function of the brain and the nervous system.
Walnuts are good sources of electrolytes. They contain calcium (28 mg per 1 handful), potassium (125 mg), phosphorus (98 mg), and magnesium (45 mg).
How many walnuts should you eat in a day?
1 handful (1 oz) of walnuts contains 2,570 mg of omega-3s. Women need 1,100 mg of omega-3s daily. Men need 1,600 mg. So, eating 6-7 walnuts a day is enough for meeting your daily omega-3 needs in most cases.
Keep in mind that walnuts are high in calories. If you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t consume too many. 1 handful of walnuts contains 185 calories!
What is the best time to eat walnuts?
You can eat walnuts whenever you like. Walnuts will keep you full for a long time. Also, they’ll give you energy for the rest of the day. Moreover, you could eat 6-7 walnuts as a snack, or with your salad, late at night.
Walnuts contain melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produce at night. Most noteworthy, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant. Only a few foods are high in melatonin, though. Walnuts are one of them! See the whole list of melatonin containing foods here.
Other foods good for brain health
According to studies, besides walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are rich in phytochemicals which fight oxidative stress and have anti-inflammatory properties. Also, they effect neurogenesis. Walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts are foods good for brain health, as they have brain-protective activity.
Furthermore, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as well. Eat them regularly. Omega-3s are vital for the body. For instance, flaxseeds may prevent hair loss, due to omega-3s!