✓ Evidence Based

7 Proven Health Benefits of Walnuts

Picture this, you have a late afternoon break from work, and the hunger pangs are starting to set in. Maybe you typically reach for whatever is around, but what if you could have a healthy snack that promises to fill you up until dinner, boost serotonin in the brain, and even sharpen your focus to finish the end of the day strong?

Enter the tiny walnut that holds some massive benefits. Dr. Neil Fuhrman, a well-known board-certified MD, promotes the benefits of including seeds in your daily routine. They are part of the food groups he recommends eating, also known as G-Bombs. That group includes greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds (also including nuts). These foods are some of the top anti-cancer foods you can eat (1).

Nuts and seeds are beneficial foods to include once in a while and maybe even daily for some. Many strict diets treat nuts as a high-calorie food to avoid, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not all calories are created equal. While nuts may have a higher caloric intake, they are nutritional powerhouses, but all nuts are not created equal either.

Fun Fact:The walnut is botanically classified as a fruit, but it is technically considered a tree nut.

Health Benefits of Walnuts

Now let’s talk about the various ways in which walnuts can improve your health and how to add more of them to your diet today.

1. They Can Boost Cognitive Function

Need a brain boost? Walnuts may be just the thing to give your mind the healthy dose of brain-loving nutrients it needs. Walnuts are jam-packed with nutrients and essential vitamins to help the body and mind thrive (2).

Walnuts provide a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids (3). Omega 3 fatty acids are necessary to prevent cognitive decline. Walnuts also help to lower inflammation and decrease oxidative stress. (4). The antioxidant content in walnuts also provides benefits to boost brain health.

Eating more walnuts may even improve memory, coordination, and learning skills. It may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, an ever-growing chronic disease. (5).

Summary:Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which give the brain a health boost and can help prevent issues like memory loss, coordination, and reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

2. They Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the number one cause of death among men and women in the United States, killing one person every 36 seconds (6). A healthy diet and lifestyle are a few crucial elements necessary to prevent heart disease. Walnuts provide a wide variety of nutrition that is necessary to maintain a healthy heart.

Issues associated with heart disease also include hypertension or high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. A diet high in walnuts can reduce the risk of stabilizing cardiometabolic risk factors (7). They can even level out cholesterol and even reduce plaque formation (8, 9, 10).

Walnuts help to decrease your risk of CVD or cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the United States (11). Although heart disease comes with genetic components, diet and lifestyle can be the deciding factor. Functional medicine specialist Bruce Lipton says, “Genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger.”

Summary:Walnuts have been found to help decrease the risk of heart disease and stabilize cardio-metabolic risk factors.

3. They May Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Walnuts are an excellent addition to most diets, especially if you are at risk of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States and the world. The good news is, it is also highly preventable and even reversible (12).

Through diet and lifestyle, it is possible to prevent type 2 diabetes even if you have a high genetic risk factor. Walnuts are a great addition to help prevent type 2 diabetes because they are full of essential nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids (13). They are also extremely high in fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar (14).

Eating more walnuts can even reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Try adding some walnuts to your routine and see how you can reap the extra health benefits.

Summary:Research has shown that the fiber and omega 3 fatty acids in walnuts both help to prevent and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

4. They Can Help with Weight Loss

Many diets tend to preach skipping nuts in your diet. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Nuts provide so much nutrition that can actually help with weight loss and much more (15). Trying to lose weight with no luck plagues millions of Americans and it can be very hard to maintain weight once the weight loss happens. A change in diet is one of the number one necessary acts to keep weight off and sustain weight loss long term.

While walnuts alone cannot help with weight loss, they are a perfect addition to a healthy diet because of the fullness factor they provide. They provide your daily healthy fat intake, along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals needed to sustain good health (16). Walnuts are the perfect snack to help out with weight loss (17).

One important factor to lose weight is to make sure to include protein, fiber, and healthy fat during meals. Walnuts can easily be that healthy fat and fiber for a go-to snack and eaten other ways too. You can add walnuts easily to several recipes as well.

Summary:Walnuts can help make you feel full and provide lots of nutrients, both of which can help with weight loss long term.

5. They May Help Relieve Joint Pain

Osteoarthritis and arthritis are common joint conditions that can often improve with dietary intervention (18). Healthy fat and fiber help contribute to improved bone function and can improve joint function as well.

Walnuts are very high in omega 3 fatty acids, which helps to reduce the risk of developing arthritis later in life (19). Walnuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are healthier than saturated fats and necessary for a healthy body.

Walnuts lower inflammation in the body and that can mean less joint pain and bone problems in the future. Try to see where you can sneak more walnuts into your diet today.

Summary:The healthy fats and fiber in walnuts can help relieve joint pain and lower inflammation.

6. They Can Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Did you know walnuts may even play a role in lowering the risk of many types of cancer? Walnuts are a powerful nutritional food that can help prevent cancers like colorectal, endometrial, pancreatic cancer, and breast cancer.

They contain tons of beneficial and necessary nutrients to keep the body healthy and strong. Walnuts also contain pedunculagin, a substance the body breaks down into Urolithins. Then, the urolithins bind to estrogen receptors. Some research suggests that the combination of events may lead to preventing breast cancer. There is also some evidence that shows eating more walnuts can significantly shrink tumor growth. One study shows that those who ate walnuts, almonds, or peanuts reduced the risk for breast cancer by two to three times. (20, 21).

Summary:Walnuts contain compounds called pedunculagin, which have been found to help prevent breast cancer and potentially shrink tumor growth.

7. They May Reduce the Risk of Depression

While a few walnuts a day doesn’t necessarily keep the therapist away, gut health through diet is essential to decrease your chances of depression. Depression happens for a wide range of reasons but the connection between the gut microbiome and the brain is strong and worth recognizing.

There are several animal studies conducted in the National Institutes of Health showing that an increased diet of walnuts decreased the risk of many detrimental activities that start in the brain. Those can include depression, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and more (22).

Furthermore, 35% of dementia cases occur because of adjustable risk factors. Around 33% of dementia cases can be prevented with lifestyle and dietary intervention. Adding more foods to your diet that are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and protein may help to prevent your risk of depression and much more.

Walnuts even look similar to the brain, making them one of the foods that is easy to remember when looking at your health.

Summary:Several studies have shown that walnuts increase activity in the brain, and has been suggested to even help reduce the risk of depression.

How to Add More Walnuts to Your Diet?

It can be extremely easy to add walnuts to your diet, any time of the day or night. Whether it is a simple snack of plain walnuts, all you need is a small handful a day to reap the many benefits. It is important to note that not all nuts are created equal. While peanuts may have nutritional benefits, they won’t give all the same benefits. Similarly, almonds can be a healthy addition to every day and provide different health benefits.

Add more walnuts to your diet today in the following ways:

  • Top off your morning breakfast like oatmeal, yogurt, or even cereal with a handful of walnuts.
  • Add walnuts to your favorite baked breads, muffins, and more. (Bonus points if using almond flour!)
  • Grab a handful of walnuts for an easy and quick snack. Take a small bag with you to work when you need an energy boost mid afternoon.
  • Add some crunch and protein to any salad.
  • Crush and sprinkle walnuts on any vegetable side.
  • Toast or blend walnuts into a paste to make the perfect nutty flavor topping.

Eating just two to three ounces of walnuts per day can give you all the health benefits listed above.

Fun Fact:California produces roughly one billion pounds of walnuts annually, accounting for more than 99% of the supply in the U.S. and two thirds of the world trade.


Walnuts are an excellent option to most diets for their healthy fat content, fiber, and wide range of nutrients. They offer an impressive list of health benefits because of their vast nutritional properties.

From improving brain health, cognition, and even lowering inflammatory markers in the body, walnuts offer tremendous benefits. Inflammation is the main source of disease, especially in developing heart problems, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even joint pain. Use the list above to utilize the healthy walnut in your life.

Where can you add more heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory nuts like walnuts to your diet today?