It’s been said that walnuts are the oldest known tree food, dating back 10,000 years. Walnuts appear to have a wide variety of health benefits, plus they’re rich in certain phytochemicals—especially phenols, phytates, and phytosterols—making them the top nut of all the healthiest nuts. They’re the only nut containing omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked with anti-inflammatory benefits. Specifically, walnuts are rich in alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid linked with improved bone health and prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A year-long walnut-rich diet improved total and LDL cholesterol in obese women, as noted in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Walnuts may have more cardiac benefits, too. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that a walnut-rich diet improved blood flow and blood pressure in overweight adults. With powerful antioxidant qualities, proteins in walnuts fight colon and breast cancer cells, shown in a study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. The Journal of Nutrition reported findings that walnuts inhibited growth of breast, colon, prostate, and kidney tumors in mice. Another animal study, as reported in Nutrients, found suppression of growth in colon cancer cells. Obviously, research on humans is needed, but these are promising findings indeed.
Most of the world’s almonds come from California, and interestingly, they hail from the peach family. They’ve been around since Biblical times and have been touted as one of the healthiest nuts (and foods in general) for nearly as long. And with good reason. The Journal of Nutrition published research showing reduction in body weight, abdominal fat, and blood pressure in obese individuals after eating 15 percent of their calories from almonds for 12 weeks. Almonds may improve memory, too, as shown in a 2016 study from Pakistan. Additionally, a 2017 study done in India showed better glucose control, improved levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, and reduced waist size in adults with diabetes eating almonds for just three weeks. Almonds are also great sources of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and folate. Snack on them as is, or get their benefits though almond butter, almond flour, and almond milk.