Walnut Nutrition

November 11, 2010

California walnut harvestBy now you know that I’m a fan of walnuts. What with my post about interesting walnut facts, walnut pesto, dinner with walnuts, and how walnuts are harvested, you probably think that walnuts are the only nut I eat (not true)! I could go on for a few more blog posts about walnuts and my time at the walnut harvest festival, but I’ll make this my last post on the subject (at least for now). After all, this is a nutrition blog, so I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the nutritional benefits of this superstar nut, also known as a superfood!

Walnuts…

  • are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. One ounce of of walnuts (~12-14 halves) contains 2.6 grams of ALA (more than any other nut).
  • contain 4 g protein and 2 g fiber (8% of the recommended daily intake) per ounce.
  • are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E and selenium. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, walnuts are second to blackberries in antioxidants.
  • are linked to improved vascular function, decreased total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, decreased inflammation, cognitive benefits, and improved heart health.

Walnut Nutrition Facts (per 1 oz* raw): 190 calories, 18 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 13 g polyunsaturated fat of which 2.6 g are alpha-linolenic acid), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein, 125 mg potassium, 30 mg calcium, 5% iron, 11% magnesium

*1 oz walnuts = 1/4 cup shelled halves or pieces = 14 halves

As you can see, one ounce of walnuts at a time costs you a lot of calories, so you don’t need to eat a whole ounce at once. I recommend eating about 5 to 7 walnut halves (or 2 tablespoons pieces) at a time combined with a piece of fruit or a yogurt for a balanced snack. Here are some other ideas of how to enjoy walnuts:

  • Top oatmeal with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • Add walnuts to a yogurt and fruit parfait (lower in sugar than granola)
  • Add toasted walnuts to a salad
  • Toss walnuts into quinoa or wild rice as a side dish
  • Caramelize walnuts and add to a cheese plate

One more tip: Store your shelled walnuts in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the loss of the healthy oils. Unopened packages are good to eat for a year, opened packages will keep for up to 6 months.

You can find many more ideas and recipes on the California Walnuts website.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy walnuts?

*Opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and I have not been compensated by anyone for this post.

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  1. Hi Jessica,
    Love it!! All about walnuts – nice, comprehensive way to present this wonderful treat. I love walnuts in almost everything – from salads to yogurt parfaits – and I’ve even made it in pesto! And a little goes a long way – like you mentioned 5-7 at a time is enough and satisfying for me!

  2. Jessica,
    Love all the info about walnuts – looks like you got some great firsthand experience! Just tried making a chicken salad with walnuts, dried cranberries, mango, and avocado – my husband loved it! Hoping my son will agree…

    1. Thanks so much Ali! It was a great experience and I really have a newfound love for walnuts – there’s so much you can do with them! That chicken salad sounds good! I’ll be reading your blog to see if your son likes it!

    1. Hi JoAnn, great question. I checked with my colleague who is the dietitian for the California Walnut Commission and she said the California Walnut Commission has done independent analysis and the nutrient integrity of walnuts is maintained when baked up to 350 degrees. They also suggest that when grinding walnuts you do it as needed so oxidation is decelerated.

      Hope this helps and enjoy your cookies 😉

  3. Dear Jessica,
    My Dr. wants me to take Fish oil suppliments to help lower my high trigycerides.
    I can not tolerate them. I have spaced out doses. Tried smaller pills … everything. So I just can not do it, They make me nauseous and vomit. (Nothing worse than that trust me)
    Can I eat 1/4 to 1/2 Cup of Walnuts to replace the fish oil?
    I can not tolerate cooking fish either. The smell makes me sick as well. Walnuts I can eat and tolerate very well. Are there any other good natural sources to combat my problem.?
    I can only eat salmon when we dine out on occasion. We do not do that often enough however. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome.
    Thank you
    VickyJones

    1. Hi Vicki, Thanks for your question. The most recent research on alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; the plant-based source of omega-3s) and triglycerides found that people who consumed anywhere from 15 grams to 43 grams of walnuts per day had a significant reduction in triglycerides (the amount of walnuts varied in different studies). There’s also a study that found that consuming omega-3s from plant-based sources like walnuts may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality, whereas marine-derived omega-3s may reduce the risk of heart-related fatalities. But the greatest protective effect from total mortality was seen in diets that included both plant and marine-based omega-3 as they appear to act synergistically.

      Sooo, to put that into recommendations you can follow, 1/4-1/2 cup of walnuts does appear to help reduce triglycerides, but my best advice is to try to get a mix of plant-based omega 3 sources (walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds) as well as some salmon and other omega-3 rich fish like anchovies, sardines, and trout when you dine out so you have a combination of both types of omega-3 fatty acids. I hope that helps!

  4. On a diet plan I have, it says 1 tsp of chopped wdlnuts is equal to 1 healthy fat. I wondered if that is 1 or 2 halves?