Nuts are a great snack for keto that can provide a variety of essential nutrients and even some health benefits on any diet.

They generally have a keto-friendly macronutrient profile, but they are calorically dense, so dieters should beware how much they consume.

It’s important to remember that nuts that are higher fat are also often the highest in calories, so don’t start gorging yourself on nuts for their fat content!

Walnuts are one of the best nuts you can eat. (Check out our article: Nuts And Seeds On Keto: The Pros & Cons)

They’re typically cheaper than other varieties of nuts, they’re lower in calories, and they also boast some great health benefits.

Let’s take a look!

Walnuts: An Overview

Like Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and cashews, walnuts are part of the tree nut family—a group that’s well-known for its amazing properties.

It’s believed that the walnuts were being eaten by the Romans as far back as 750 BC. Known as a “food of the gods,” their scientific name, Juglans Regia comes from Jupiter, the king of the Roman pantheon.

Just an ounce of walnuts a day is enough to give a noticeable boost to your recommended daily allowances of key vitamins and minerals, so it’s worth the effort to count the calories and incorporate them into your diet.

In terms of macros, walnuts contain approximately:

  • 5g of protein
  • 1.8g of net carbs
  • 20g of fat
  • 220 calories

They’re fairly low in carbs, compared to other nuts, but should still be eaten in moderation.

What Eating More Walnuts Can Do For You

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial in the fat-burning process, so as long as you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning. Introducing more of these into your diet will actually speed up the weight loss process, and even help you manage weight.

Manage Your Weight

Walnuts are packed with healthy unsaturated fats, that are known to be great for your heart, but they are also unique in the nut world due to the fact that they contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats.

In one study, participants were found to burn 28% more calories when eating a dish with walnuts than a dish with fat from dairy [1].

There are a few different types of polyunsaturated fats, but the form found in walnuts, alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), may even stimulate your metabolism to help your body lose weight faster. A single serving of walnuts contains around 2.5g of ALA.

In addition to the healthy fats in walnuts, they’re also a good source of soluble fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy and can reduce your appetite, another advantage that can help you lose weight.

Keep Your Heart Healthy

The healthy fats in walnuts don’t just help promote weight loss, they’re also great at reducing the risk of heart disease and maintaining your heart’s health [2]. The omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, and the amino acids (L-arginine) found in walnuts both have anti-inflammatory properties which can help prevent clogged arteries.

Walnuts are also packed with rare, powerful antioxidants, more so than any other nut. These antioxidants, like tannin tellimagrandin, quinone juglone, and flavonol morin, are extremely effective at protecting cells from the harmful molecules known as free radicals—a potential cause of heart disease.

Finally, walnuts are cholesterol free and even help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the “bad” cholesterol, without affecting your weight loss.

Have a Good Night’s Sleep

Walnuts actually contain a hormone known as melatonin, known as the “body-clock” hormone, which helps to induce and regulate your sleep, making them a great addition to your evening meal or as a night-time snack.

A university study [3] on rats has even shown an increase in melatonin concentration in those that were fed walnuts, compared with the control group that wasn’t.

Not only do walnuts contain this hormone naturally, but they’re also a good source of the sleep-enhancing amino acid, tryptophan, which helps our own bodies produce serotonin and melatonin for a better night’s rest.

Improve Your Digestion

With 2g of dietary fiber per ounce, walnuts are great for your digestive health. They help detoxify your internal digestive tract by removing waste and toxins, helping them pass through your body more easily, even aiding with constipation.

Walnuts are also proven to keep the gut healthy through their probiotic properties, with studies showing an increase in Lactobacillus, Roseburia and Ruminococcus, some of the most important gut bacteria in our digestive system.

A low biodiversity of gut bacteria can lead to obesity and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so the more, the better!

Conclusion

These are just a handful of the benefits a serving of walnuts a day can provide, but it’s also worth noting that the properties that make them a superfood have also been linked to things like:

  • cancer prevention
  • mood elevation
  • increased male fertility
  • improved immunity
  • healthier hair and skin
  • brain health
  • bone health
  • prevention against type-II diabetes

With all of these incredible health advantages, it’s tempting to start shoveling walnuts in your mouth as soon as you can, but remember to pay attention to their high-calorie count. To avoid overdoing it, portion your servings carefully so you don’t risk affecting your ketosis.

So how exactly should you introduce walnuts into your diet?

The obvious way is to eat them raw (avoid salted or flavored varieties). But you can also chop them up and add them to your favorite desserts, grind them into a powder for a nutty flavor in almost any dish, add them to natural yogurt with fruit for a healthy treat, or even roast them yourself at home.

They’re delicious, versatile and incredible for your health, so there’s no reason to delay adding walnuts to your keto diet!

References:

[1] Casas-Agustench P1, López-Uriarte P, Bulló M, Ros E, Gómez-Flores A, Salas-Salvadó J. Acute effects of three high-fat meals with different fat saturations on energy expenditure, substrate oxidation and satiety. Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;28(1):39-45. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2008.10.008. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

[2] Kris-Etherton PM. Walnuts decrease risk of cardiovascular disease: a summary of efficacy and biologic mechanisms. J Nutr. 2014 Apr;144(4 Suppl):547S-554S. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.182907. Epub 2014 Feb 5.

[3] Reiter RJ, Manchester LC, Tan DX. Melatonin in walnuts: influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood. Nutrition. 2005 Sep;21(9):920-4.

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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