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Golden is the walnut: Walnut benefits

Rich in ellagic acid, fatty acids and vitamins, walnut benefits your immune system, nourishes your skin, and protects your body cells.

April 30, 2019 3:01 pm

“The slow motion, the rhythm of rubbing walnuts makes one’s spirit feel relaxed and comfortable…. Oh this thing of walnuts is a real magic of massaging your soul…”. In 1937, the German scholar Ernst Cordes travelled to China and recorded these remarkable lines, taken from a conversation with an elderly Chinese man stroking two ancient walnuts in his hand.(1)

Today, beautifully carved walnuts costing tens of thousands of pounds are still spun in the palm of the hand in China, the most precious specimens sold to signify status and money. We at Erbology place as much value in walnuts (Juglans regia) for brainpower and inner tranquillity, but ingested or used on the temple of your body for purposes of health and wellbeing – a direction that, funnily enough, can also be associated with the year 1937. That was the year that the Russian scientist Gergelezhiu first reported that unripe walnuts contained a significant amount of vitamin C.(2)

Elsewhere in history, Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt used pigment made from walnut shells in their work. From da Vinci to the Walnut Whip – not a bad case for the place of walnuts in pop culture, is it?

Walnut benefits on heart health

To validate the worth of walnuts in today’s world, where people are becoming increasingly conscious about how food and ingredients affect each and every one of us, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now placed its official stamp on the role of walnuts in heart health. In 2004 they allowed walnut manufacturers to add these words to the packaging of their wares: “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces (28 grams) of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

Why is this? Well, most nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids; walnuts and walnut oil are abundant with polyunsaturated fatty acids, which contain more than one double bond in their makeup. These acids make up the majority of the fats in walnut oil and include alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid. These are the two essential fatty acids which your body cannot generate.  

 

green walnut

 

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid which the body later reformulates into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. These acids have been judged important for healthy aging; they also boost cardiovascular health.(3) A separate study found that EPA and DHA could help prevent deterioration in cognitive function.(4) That’s a lovely strength when you consider that walnuts look like the human brain – a case of nature giving us poetic hints! No wonder walnuts are often called brain food. These nuts have also been found to improve endothelial function, which means that walnuts help the linings of blood vessels to perform better.(5) Raw walnuts are also impressively rich in minerals including magnesium, vitamin B6, iron, and potassium.

Golden is walnut oil.

A beautiful, gleaming golden in colour, unrefined walnut oil is derived from walnuts that are dried and then cold-pressed. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one tablespoon of walnut oil a day yields 1.4 grams of ALA.(6) The suggested daily intake of ALA for men is 1.6 grams; for women it is 1.1 grams, so a tablespoon or two of walnut oil is a very neat shortcut for anyone.

The previously mentioned study into the use of walnuts to combat loss in cognitive function due to aging found that walnut oil protected cells from oxidative stress and from inflammation. Walnut oil can also offer melatonin(7), which helps the body keep time; this can be of great help to people suffering from insomnia. All together, you could think of walnut oil as fine-tuning your internal clock and helping all the gears run silkily smoothly.

 

walnut oil

Sugar is as sugar does.

Another important gauge on the dashboard of physical health is the regulation of blood sugar. Here also walnut oil can assist us. Among the many studies into the use of walnut oil in the management of diabetes, there is research looking at what the oil can do to help to improve the condition of those suffering from diabetes mellitus type 2, which is increasing globally. It found that walnut oil significantly helped to reduce the dangerously high levels of blood sugar in the patients, and also noted how remarkably rich in antioxidants the oil is, namely hydrolysed tannins and tocopherol.(8) Antioxidants fight nasty free radicals, which cause all sorts of cosmetic and internal damage.

Walnut oil also contains valuable ellagic acid. It is an incredibly potent polyphenol that research has shown to have anti-carcinogenic effects on rats.(9) Scientific studies have also supported other benefits of ellagic acid when fed to rats, such as an ability to reduce obesity.(10)

Ellagic acid appears in many cosmetics because of its photoprotective effects on collagen breakdown and inflammatory responses in irradiated human skin cells.(11) Simply put, it seems to help strengthen the skin from the effects of aging. Although further research on the effects of ellagic acid on human subjects is needed, it is clear that ellagic acid is one quite powerful antioxidant.

However, as with anything else, professional advice should be sought before attempting to treat oneself medically with walnut oil. As it is so potent, it may be wise to take it sparingly and to be aware that it may cause stomach upsets and bring blood sugar down to an undesirable low when taken with certain other drugs.

"You may find that walnut oil will relieve aches and soreness in your muscles and joints."

Inside and outside, walnut oil nourishes and protects your skin.

Cold-pressed walnut oil has been used to fight wrinkles since at least the 17th century. Walnut oil is undoubtedly hydrating and a wonderfully moisture-rich boost to the skin. Possessing an abundance of Vitamin E, walnut oil helps make facial skin radiant and smooth. It is very nice when mixed with honey, yoghurt, and oatmeal powder and used as a face mask. Individuals with sensitive skin might do well to test walnut oil on a small patch of skin before using it topically, as with any concentrated oil. Walnut oil should not be used on the areas around the eyes as it may irritate the super-delicate skin there.

Acting as another type of brain food, you can gently rub the oil into the scalp. Thereby, it may help with the itchy problem of dandruff. Even if you are not afflicted with a dry scalp, it will help clear the often-neglected skin of your head from product build-up and environmental residue.

Walnut is a real magic.

When utilised as massage oil, the previously mentioned anti-inflammatory properties of walnut oil come into welcome play again. You may find that walnut oil will relieve aches and soreness in your muscles and joints. To paraphrase Ernest Cordes, oh this thing of walnuts is a real magic of massaging your poor overworked limbs, as well as of your soul!

Anti-microbial properties of walnut oil

A number of studies have validated the anti-microbial properties of walnut oil, which means that it is quite effective in fighting not only the endless varieties of tiny bacteria that populate our world and act negatively on the skin and the immune system, but is also able to ward off fungal infections and some viruses before they start to affect you.(12) This potency as an anti-fungal agent means that walnut oil is effective in preventing acne.

Because walnut oil is anti-inflammatory, as stated earlier, it is also able to work on any skin infections that have already come into being. A double threat! Some people use walnut oil on athlete’s foot and candida, as these are both fungal infections.

The smell, taste and feel of walnut oil

Walnut oil is known to have a calming aroma; its scent is quite robust and mellow, like being out in a country meadow after the rain. If your days are stressful and long, rubbing some of this oil on your hands and pressure points may bring relief and a sense of being earthed back into the frenetic day.

This is one of these gorgeous substances that tastes exactly as it smells. And, as you imagine – the equivalent of a ‘what you see is what you get’ human being. Agreeably subtle, the rooted flavour deepens and expands as you take it in; it stays with you and brings the same peaceful feeling as the smell does.

You can best use this oil as a finishing touch drizzled onto salads, soups, stews, and pastas. It is winning in the morning too, working well with porridge or stewed fruits. Here at Erbology, we recommend one to two tablespoons of walnut oil a day. Because this oil can become rancid if exposed to direct sunlight, we suggest storing in a cool, dark place and using within 6 months.

Key walnut benefits

  1. Nourishes the brain
  2. Rich in phytonutrients, omega-3, omega-6 that help to fight nasty free radicals
  3. Anti-microbial properties
  4. Anti-inflammatory oil that may help relieve aches and pains in limbs and joints
  5. Supports a healthy heart
  6. Rich in melatonin, which helps regulate the body’s inner clock

Erbology walnut oil

Erbology Walnut Oil is organic and cold-pressed. This preparation method means that valuable chemical compounds native to the oil will remain wholly intact. Erbology Walnut Oil is vegan, gluten-free and clean of any preservatives or genetic modifications.

Green walnut gazpacho recipe

We have recently become fans of gazpacho and have been experimenting with different versions; walnut oil lends a grounded quality to this imaginative version of the cold soup. Gazpacho is light and summery in its original tomato-based form. Particularly when you live in London instead of in the Mediterranean, sometimes you need something different from the dish!

 

walnut oil health benefits

Ginger, another root vegetable, makes an interesting companion to the walnut oil as they join forces to complement the freshness of the spinach, cucumber, apple, parsley, and lemon. Kalamata olives – among our all-time favourite garnishes – crunchy homemade croutons and sprinkles of wholesome hemp seeds finish the dish with a delectable mix of textures and wonderfully savoury, full-bodied flavours. Discover the Green walnut gazpacho recipe.

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References

(1)  Hsieh, I-Yi, “The Walnut Rubbing Chinese Gentleman: Ernst Cordes’ Travelogue to Beijing, 1937”. JHI Blog, 2015, https://bit.ly/2StQ5Xy.

(2) Pyke, Magnus, et al, “Vitamin C in Walnuts”. Nature, 1942, https://www.nature.com/articles/150267b0.

(3) Swanson et al, “Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life”. Advances in Nutrition, 2012, https://bit.ly/2p06kuo.

(4) Poulouse, Shibu M, et al, “Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age”. The Journal of Nutrition, 2014, https://bit.ly/2WXJhzW.

(5) Ros, Emilio, et al, “A Walnut Diet Improves Endothelial Function in Hypercholesterolemic Subjects:A Randomized Crossover Trial”. Circulation, 2004, https://bit.ly/2TPBuTb.

(6) Banel, Deirdre K and Hu, Frank B, “Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review1,2,3”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009, https://bit.ly/2I8Cz6S.

(7) Reiter, RJ et al, “Melatonin in walnuts: influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood”. Nutrition, 2005, https://bit.ly/2SDyBaD.

(8) Zibaeenezhad, Mohammadjavad et al, “The Effect of Walnut Oil Consumption on Blood Sugar in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus Type 2”. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2016, https://bit.ly/2SH2IxJ.

(9) Zhang, Hong-Mei et al, “Research progress on the anticarcinogenic actions and mechanisms of ellagic acid”. Cancer Biology & Medicine, 2014, https://bit.ly/2SF5wf0.

(10) Makino-Wakagi, Yasuko et al, “Ellagic acid in pomegranate suppresses resistin secretion by a novel regulatory mechanism involving the degradation of intracellular resistin protein in adipocytes”. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2012, https://bit.ly/2SJtsh4.

(11) Bae, JY et al, “Dietary compound ellagic acid alleviates skin wrinkle and inflammation induced by UV-B irradiation”. Experimental Dermatology, 2010, https://bit.ly/2RWx6zI.

(12) Saxena, R, et al, “Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of walnut oil“. International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics, 2009, https://bit.ly/2GCN3sS.