A handful of walnuts benefits the whole family

February 5, 2023 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

A handful of walnuts benefits the whole family

New research from The Indiana University School of Public Health suggests adding just one ounce of walnuts (14 halves) to the typical American diet is a simple change that brings many nutritional benefits to the diets of children and adults.

Among people who do not normally eat nuts, eating walnuts improved diet quality and intake of some under-consumed key nutrients.

This is one of the few studies looking at the typical diet of both children and adults and simulating how the simple addition of walnuts to the diet could help achieve better nutritional status. Incorporating walnuts into snacks and meals may be an easy option for adults and children to consider as part of their diet.   

About the study

The researchers looked to see what would happen when one ounce of walnuts was added to the typical daily diet of nearly 8,000 Americans who do not currently eat nuts. 

Participant health and dietary information were obtained from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a nationally representative, cross-sectional survey of people living in the United States.

Information was analyzed by age group (4–8 years, 9–13 years, 14–18 years, 19–50 years, 51–70 years, 71 years and older) and gender.

Researchers then evaluated diet quality with and without the added one ounce of walnuts using the 2015 Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2015), a diet quality score that correlates strongly with chronic disease risk.

How walnuts improved nutrition intakes

Adding one ounce of walnuts to the typical diets of Americans resulted in the following outcomes:

  • Diet quality scores were significantly improved for all ages and genders, especially with respect to the ratio of healthy unsaturated fat to saturated fats
  • Significantly higher fibre and blood-pressure-lowering potassium intakes
  • Fewer adults, children and adolescents had magnesium and folate (a B vitamin) intakes below the daily requirements
  • A reduction in inadequate intakes for zinc and copper for most age and gender groups

Limitations of this study include the fact that self-reported 24-hour dietary recall data were used. These are subject to measurement error due to large day-to-day variations in food intake.

While this study demonstrates the potential positive nutritional impacts from including walnuts in your daily diet, further studies are needed to confirm these results. 

The nutritional benefits of walnuts

One ounce of walnuts (28 g or 14 walnut halves) delivers 185 calories, 4.3 g of protein, 18. 5 g of fat and 2 g of fibre, along with 2.6 g alpha linolenic acid (ALA); women need 1.1 g per day and men require 1.6 g of ALA each day. It also provides a decent amount of folate, magnesium and potassium.

Source: Nutrients, January 4, 2023.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.