Yes, walnuts are Paleo!
Walnut is the nut of an ornamental tree which is highly prized for its beauty. It has been cultivated for thousands of years. Walnuts are rounded and single-seeded stone fruits of the walnut tree. The seed kernels of walnuts are enclosed in a brown seed coat that contains its antioxidants. It has two bumpy lobes which are off white in color and covered by a skin. The flavor of walnuts are fairly mild and earthy and has a crunchy texture.
There are two most common types of walnuts: English or Persian and black walnuts. The English walnuts originated from Persia. It is the most popular type of walnuts and has a thinner shell. The black walnuts conversely are native to North America and have distinct pungent flavor. Its shell is harder to crack.
Walnuts are nutrient-dense and contain protein, fiber, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc are all present in walnuts. It also has vitamins B6 and E.
Benefits of Eating Walnuts
Walnuts offer a list of health benefits and it includes the following:
- Walnuts when consumed with its skin are a powerhouse of nutrients, antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids.
- The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in walnuts are protective against metabolic, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. These phytonutrients can lower the risk of certain cancers too.
- Walnuts being a good source of copper and manganese, are good for bone health
- Walnuts promote cardiovascular health. They contain amino acid l-arginine that offers multiple vascular benefits. The omega 3 in walnuts helps in maintaining blood pressure.
- Eating walnuts is associated with increased satiety. This is favorable to people who are trying to lose or maintain weight.
- Walnuts are rich in vitamin E which can enhance vulnerability to oxidative stress that can lead to aging and promotes skin health.
- Walnuts are packed with many important B complex vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folates.
Concerns About Walnuts
One of the main concerns with walnuts is that they are high in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). There are 47.2 grams of PUFAs for every 100 grams of walnuts. Given this high omega 6, the ratio of Omega 3:6 is imbalanced.
But according to Mark Sisson, there’s nothing to worry about consuming walnuts occasionally because walnuts too have a fairly high Omega 3 content. Also, nuts are only part of a meal, as snack.
Another issue that arose with nut consumption is its phytic acid content. But based on data comparison, among all nuts, walnut has lower phytic acid content compared to almonds with just 760mg per 100 grams.
Walnuts are approved in the Paleo diet whether it has phytic acid or high amounts of PUFAs. One practice that can be done to lessen or eliminate these is through soaking,
After all, walnuts offer many benefits that can counter the effects of PUFAs and phytic acids. Furthermore, walnuts are high in Omega 3 fatty acids as well that are good for the body.
There’s no reason to avoid walnuts and other nuts as long as it is not considered as staple food.
What Experts Say About Walnuts… Is It Paleo?
“Conventional wisdom says walnuts are healthy. Primals worry about linoleic acid intake, and walnuts are loaded with it (along with some ALA). How do they fare in the literature? Walnut meals (as in a plate of food that’s 75% walnut) reduce the propensity of blood lipids to oxidize (almond meals had similar effects)”. – Mark Sisson
All you ever wanted to know about Walnuts and Paleo
The Paleo Diet. Going nuts: All the bolts
Mark’s Daily Apple. The Definitive Guide to Nuts
Mark’s Daily Apple. Nuts and Phytic Acid: Should You Be Concerned?
Mark’s Daily Apple. Why the Omega-3/Omega-6 Ratio May Not Matter After All
Chris Kresser. Another reason you shouldn’t go nuts on nuts
Paleo Leap. Are nuts and seeds healthy?
Paleo Flip. Nuts: which ones to eat and which ones to avoid
Original Eating, Walnuts
The world’s Healthiest Foods. Walnuts
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photo credit: Walnuts Texture 001