Why You Should be “Nuts” About Walnuts

why walnuts are a great snack

Nuts are something special, they are both a snack and a great combatant against high cholesterol.

The majority of US walnuts are grown in California, and removed from the golf ball sized shell they originate in. 

Walnuts are such a big deal in California that the University of California holds research conferences on the topic and maintains an online database on the studies submitted to the California Walnut Board. 

What is the Nutrition Breakdown?

A serving of walnuts is just 1 ounce, which is only about 7 walnuts. Keep this small quantity in mind.

Calories: 185
Monounsaturated fat: 2.5 grams
Saturated fat: 1.7 grams
Protein: 4.3 grams
Carbohydrates: 3.9 grams
Fiber: 1.9 grams
Sugar: 0.7 grams

If you saw our article on pumpkin seeds, you may think some of the following percentages are lower than you anticipated. Despite this, the polyunsaturated fats and presence of omega-3 fatty acids make walnuts a great choice for lowering cholesterol, even if they are not an abundant source of nutrients like calcium. 

Calcium: 3% daily value
Iron: 10%
Potassium: 5%
Magnesium: 14%
Folate: 7%

(Nutrition Facts taken from WebMD and are estimates) 

Nuts and Your Cholesterol

A 2018 study used its own research, in addition to 26 previous similar studies to compare those eating a diet with walnuts to a diet without walnuts. 

Those eating a diet with walnuts reported…
3% reduction to overall cholesterol
4% reduction to LDL cholesterol (the lower number)
5.5% reduction in triglycerides

Though nuts are high in fat and calories (just 7 walnuts is about 185 calories) it was interesting that no weight gain was noted for those eating the diet that included walnuts.  

The Bad News

No single food is going to instantly help you turn a corner on your high cholesterol. Walnuts are no different as a combination of nuts is better than eating just one. Consider mixing in hazelnuts and almonds as well. 

Like any study relating to diet, researchers can not definitely say that walnuts are the source of decreased cholesterol levels. It is entirely possible that those who chose to eat walnuts over other snack options (like chips) are also likely to exercise more and not smoke.