Walnut, Omega-3 and You

Walnuts have been shown to have very specific therapeutic effects in the human body. The fat in walnut is beneficial to the formation of albumin in the body. Walnuts fall into the warm category. In TCM, it is claimed that walnut being sweet and warm in property, it can invigorate yang; and being greasy and moist, warm but not dry like most nuts. Hence, it is good for weakness and deficient vital essence in the elderly, nourishing the blood and vital energy, benefitting the lungs and kidneys and moistening the lungs, helping inspiration to relieve asthma, moistening the intestine and relaxing bowels.

Therapeutic Uses 

In TCM, walnuts are associated with the Lung, Large Intestine and Kidney meridians and have sweet and warm properties. It is capable of supplementing kidney-qi, helping inspiration and moistening intestinal dryness, frequently serving to treat painful muscular rheumatism involving the lumbar region, impotence, seminal emission, frequent urination due to kidney-deficiency, chronic cough and asthma of deficiency-syndrome and constipation. It is also an excellent tonic food.

Based on their therapeutic effects, herbs are said to enter one or more of the energetic meridians of the body. Walnuts are said to enter the Kidney, Lung and Large Intestine. Walnuts tonify the Kidney and replenish the Kidney Essence. Kidney Essence controls the growth of teeth and bones and is manifested on the hair. Essence is essential for normal brain development, sexual energy and fertility.

According to TCM, use walnut to soothes irritated tissue and has expectorant property, in the treatment of depression, fatigue, alcoholism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and schizophrenia. Walnuts are a "warm" food that benefits the digestive system, reinforces and nourish the blood; and kidney energy, nourishes and warm the lungs; and benefits brain function. It is widely used to relieve coughing and poor memory. Walnuts also nourish the skin and help prevent gray hairs. Walnuts are known to enrich the sperm. Walnuts are an important herb to strengthen the bones.

Typically, walnuts are used to treat pain and weakness in the knees and back, aid in digestion and relieve asthma. Walnuts may play a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels, thus reducing the incidence of some forms of heart disease

For thousands of years Chinese culture deducted that walnuts benefit the brain. One of the oldest principals of Chinese herbal medicine is that the shape, texture or color of a plant or natural substance may mimic certain parts of the body or attributes of certain diseases and therefore suggest a therapeutic correspondence.

Look closely at a walnut. How cerebral does it look? The surface of the walnut resembles the crinkled brain surface, so it is believed to benefit the brain. This is based on the ancient theory that eating things that resemble parts of the body can actually benefit that body part. This brain-shaped nut is wonderful for people with a dry constitution, growing children and of course, your brain.

Nutrition: Rich in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Most of the fat in walnuts is linoleic acid, a nutritious unsaturated fatty acid that helps lower cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries. The vitamins B and E and phospholipid in walnuts can help delay cell aging and improve memory. Micro-elements like calcium, zinc, cooper and chromium are essential for metabolism.

Walnut has huge amounts of omega-3, an essential fatty acid very beneficial to our body. Renowned for its health promoting quality, this nutrient play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. Omega-3 fat helps strengthen cell membrane integrity and repair cellular and tissue damage.

Lack of this important polyunsaturated fatty acid can affect your mood; result in fatigue, dry skin, heart problems and poor circulation.

Walnut is also a rich source of other important nutrients that are vital for activities such as enzyme or hormone activation, building or proper functioning of your nervous system, bones, organs and body tissues.

Walnuts also contain manganese, copper, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and selenium, all nutrients which are important to good health, like most nuts can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health when eaten as part of a balanced diet.

Walnuts are rich source of many phyto-chemical substances that may contribute to their overall anti-oxidant activity, including melatonin, ellagic acid, excellent source of vitamin E, carotenoids and poly-phenolic compounds. These compounds known to have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.

They are also packed with several important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates.

Beneficial For…

Skin. Walnuts are considered moistening, nourishing and rejuvenating. Applied externally, walnut oil is great for dry skin. The oil soothes and lubricates, leaving your skin soft and supple without any greasiness. It is favored as base oil for massage. It is often used to treat wrinkles. Some people also used it to combat various types of skin problems including fungal infections, eczema, acne, pimples, psoriasis, scabies, inflamed skin, sunburn and itchy scalp.

Lungs. Dry cough, consume gruel with powdered walnut, a teaspoon of almond and thickened with rice flour to sooth, reduce inflammation and lubricate our throat and lungs. Add sugar to taste. The leaves are used in folk medicine to treat chronic cough and asthma. TCM prescribed walnut to be taken between bouts of asthma, but not for acute asthma.

Bowels. Walnuts moisten and lubricate the intestines and promotes easy passage of stools through the bowels to treat constipation that is caused by lack of Essence or Blood or both. This often occurs in the elderly or following a chronic illness. A dry constitution and pass out dry, hard stools with difficulty, walnut will be a beneficial add to our diet. Traditional healers uses the bark of walnut to relieve constipation while the rind of the fruit is used to treat diarrhea.

Heart. The best ways to prevent heart disease is to eat a diet low in saturated fat and foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids). The high level of polyunsaturated fats in walnut also contributes to better heart health. They slow down blood platelets from clumping together as well as the formation of blood clots and plaque in the arteries. Walnuts strengthen the blood and improve blood vessel health.

Walnut contain antioxidants and L-arginine (an amino acid), which could improve artery function thus reducing the risk of heart disease. L-arginine is used to make nitric oxide, a compound in the body that relaxes blood vessels. L-arginine may help lower the risk of hardening of arteries. Oil in the nut also helps prevent erratic heart rhythms. The high quantities of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and calcium in walnut are essential minerals necessary for the proper functioning of the heart as well.

Brain, Nerves and Eyes. Walnuts are brain food that increased intelligence and memory. The huge amounts of omega-3 in the walnut not only improve cognitive function but also behavioral function. Deficiency can result in poor memory, mood swings or depression. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy risk developing vision and nerve problems. This is because omega-3 in the nut helps optimize neurological transmission and brain function.

The nutrients, Lutein and zeaxanthin in the nut are essential for the retina of our eyes. Deficiency of these nutrients increases the risk of blindness.

Walnut also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that our body needs to produce melatonin, Vitamin B [niacin] and serotonin (a neurotransmitter). Serotonin makes us feel calm, relaxed and filled with a sense of well-being. Melatonin helps us to sleep better. Another amino acid in walnut is glutamic acid. It is considered to be nature's "Brain food" by improving mental capacities and enhancing normal nervous system function. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and is the only means by which toxic ammonia in the brain is removed.

Reduces Inflammation. Walnut has compounds that reduce the production of cytokines, which are involved in inflammatory response. Inflammation makes our body tissues more susceptible to damage and may result in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, bronchitis etc.

It is important to have a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet. Whereas Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. Our body is able to convert alpha linolenic acid (omega- 3) to other omega fatty acids when needed but not vice versa.

Weight Watchers. Even though it is high in calories, a study has found that the people who consumed nuts regularly did not gain significant weight. Walnuts (which are rich in alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid) that lower total cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high cholesterol levels.

Walnuts are effective in mitigating the effects of a diet high in saturated fats. The protective fat from walnuts actually undoes some of the detrimental effects of a high-saturated-fat diet.

Sleep. Walnut may be a good evening snack for a natural good night's sleep. Walnuts also seem to triple melatonin levels in the body? Melatonin is one of the body's sleep regulating hormones, so if we're tired of counting sheep at night, maybe a pre-bedtime snack of walnuts would help us get some shuteye. Eating walnuts triples blood levels of melatonin (a sleep hormone) and also increases antioxidant activity in the bloodstream. 

TCM believe walnut is good for the organ it emulates and also believe it invigorates qi, enriches blood, nourishes muscles, benefits stomach and spleen and blackens the hair.

Tips: "Warm" walnuts are not recommended for people with excessive internal heat. Walnuts' fat may aggravate diarrhea. The brown coating is nutritious and should not be removed.

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