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22 Nov 2013

Walnuts - the best from all the nuts

Do you like nuts? Have you ever wonder which nuts are the most nutritious? The answer is walnuts! It is a great snack while you are studding or working and you need to concentrate. Walnuts are extremely powerful antioxidant, as well as they increase your concentration. Enjoy walnuts during autumn when they are fresh and improve your mood avoiding seasonal depression. Add them to salads, desserts, cakes or crunch them on their own!

Walnuts in the mythology

Walnuts have been cultivated for at least 2,000 years. The botanic genus name of walnut is Juglans and it comes from roman mythology. An ancient myth says that the king of gods, Jupiter, lived on walnuts when he was staying on earth. This is the reason why Romans called walnuts Jovis glans that is translated as “the glans of Jupiter”.

Walnuts are also part of Greek mythology. According to the myth, Dionysus, the god of fertility, wine and music, was in love with Caryae, the Titanus of Wisdom. After Caryae’s death, Dionysus was broken-hearted and he transformed Caryae’s body into a walnut tree. Karydi is a Greek word for walnut and it is a linkage to the goodness Caryae.

It is thought that Persia is an origin of walnut tree. Persian walnuts are known for more than 3,000 years. In Persia, walnuts serve as a fundamental ingredient of cakes and desserts since ancient times. What is more, pastes made from walnuts were used in medicine. Around 100 BC walnuts were introduced to China from Persia by the Chinese Emperor Wu Ti. Then, walnut trees spread across Asia and Europe.

All of the walnuts benefits

The healthy benefits provided by walnuts were recently appreciated by the American Chemical Society. It was said that walnuts are more nutritious than peanuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia and cashew nuts, as well as pistachio. Walnuts are frequently called “food of brain”. This name is not because of the shape of these nuts, but it is due to the high content of nutrients crucial for brain functioning. Walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3, vitamin B complex and magnesium.

Be smart!

Improvement in brain functioning

Walnuts contain much more omega-3 fatty acids than the rest of the nuts. Omega-3 build up to 30% of our nervous cells in brain [1]. This is why they are so important for brain development. Walnuts have lots of phosphorus that is another essential mineral having role in thinking processes. What is interesting, walnuts are useful during autumn, as omega-3 beneficial effects on nervous system include prevention of seasonal depression. Apart from that, recent study demonstrated that children eating less omega-3 cause more behavioral problems, they have aggression outburst more often, as well as they are overexcitable [2].

Stop ageing!

Antioxidant properties

One of walnuts’ characteristic is that they are full of ellagic acid. It is a natural phenol having a lot of health benefit, including antioxidant and anticancerous properties. Walnuts have been recognized as nuts with the highest free and total polyphenols concentration in both raw and roasted forms [3]. What is more, walnuts polyphenols have the best efficacy among nuts and also the highest lipoprotein-bound antioxidant activity. Catechin was identified as a main walnuts polyphenol. Antioxidant properties of walnuts are 2 to 15 times stronger than vitamin E. Furthermore, walnuts have plenty of manganese, cooper and other minerals that strengthen our antioxidant defense mechanism.

Sweet dreams!

Enhanced sleeping

The other advantage of walnuts is their effect on sleeping. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for sleeping regulation. The amount of the hormone, which is produced by the organism, reduces with age. The studies show that walnuts contain 3.5±1.0 ng melatonin, while their eating increases blood concentration of melatonin [4]. As a result, walnuts help to resolve sleeping problems.

and for a good time before sleep

Improvement in sperm production

Connection of walnuts with Greek god of fertility is not without rationale. Research demonstrated that men eating 75g whole-shelled walnuts daily for 12 weeks experience beneficial effect on sperm vitality, motility and morphology [5]. The improvement in sex hormone concentration in blood was also observed. It was suggested that omega-3 is related to these effects. This intervention resulted on a change in serum fatty acids profile as well. However, the importance of the fact, that walnuts are natural food containing multiple nutrients acting synergistically with dietary omega-3, was underlined.


  1. Bourre JM (2004) Roles of unsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids) in the brain at various aged and during ageing. J Nutr Health Aging: 8(3): 163-74
  2. Montgomery P, Burton JR, Sewell RP, Spreckelsen TF, Richardson AJ (2013) Low blood long chain omega-3 fatty acids in UK children are associated with poor cognitive performance and behavior: a cross-sectional analysis form the DOLAB study. PLoS One: 8(6): e66697
  3. Vinson JA, Cai Y (2012) Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits. Food Funct: 3(2): 134-40
  4. Robbins WA, Xun L, FitzGerald LZ, Henning SM, Carpenter CL (2012) Walnuts improve semen quality in men consuming a Western style diet: randomized control dietary intervention trial. Biol Reprod: 87 (4): 101
  5. Sabate J (2003) Nut consumption and body weight. An J Clin Nutr: 78(3):647S-650S