Walnuts are popularly eaten as snacks among many Nigerians. The delicious and crunchy walnut is known to be king in the dry fruit family. Botanically known as Plukenetiaconophora or Tetracarpidiumconophorum, the walnut is of the family of Euphorbiaceae. It is commonly known as asala or awusa in Yoruba; Ukpa in Igbo, Okwe in Delta, Arinsa in Benue and iringoro in hausa, the remarkable health benefits of the nut is unimaginable.
Generally, people await the arrival of walnuts in the market this season. The pleasure of cracking a black shell either with your teeth, biting down or hitting lightly on a hard surface to reveal a creamy nut inside is refreshing, talk-less the cool crunch as you eat and the slight bitterness it leaves on your palate at the same time.
Usually hawked on the streets and in markets by women and children in little cones of transparent cellophane parked in most parts in a tray, it has been found that walnuts are highly important for medicinal, therapeutic and pharmaceutical reasons. They are low in carbs, most of which consist of fibre; below are other benefits of walnuts.
All types of nuts are associated with a lowered risk of diabetes and walnuts are no exception. According to a study, women who consumed 28 grams of walnuts twice a week were 24% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition, and even though it was conducted on women, experts believe that the benefits would be similar for men too
Walnuts contain the amino acid arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors. Eating just four walnuts a day has been shown to significantly raise blood levels of heart-healthy ALA, and walnut consumption supports healthful cholesterol levels.
Rich in vitamins
The nut has been found to contain a wide range of vitamins that are needed by the human body for day to day functioning. Expert analysis of the nut found that it contains Ascorbic acid, Tocopherol, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, Folic acid and Cyanocobalamin i.e. vitamins C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 respectively.
Walnut seeds have been reported effective for tackling male infertility issues by boosting sperm productions in the testicles. Researchers reveal that men who include more African walnuts in their diet stand higher chances of improving their sperm health, sperm development and spermatozoa count. Eating 2.5 ounces of walnuts per day improves semen quality in healthy young men, researchers say. This is attributive to the high amount of healthy fatty acids present in these nuts.
Source of minerals
They are also a very rich source of minerals such as manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Copper is a cofactor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome C-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as co-factors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, gonadal development, digestion, and nucleic acid synthesis.
Eating walnuts everyday can ward off dementia, say scientists. In a study, Dr. Abha Chauhan and his team from New York State Institute found that mice deprived of walnuts suffered a dramatic loss in learning, memory and physical and emotional control. According to the results, vitamin E and flavonoids in walnuts helped destroy harmful free radical chemicals that cause dementia.