Walnuts have a high level of the essential fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Our bodies are unable to make this fat; we must get it from our diets. The fats in walnuts are mostly polyunsaturated, a good heart-health-promoting type of fat. As is the case with other nuts, walnuts are a source of protein, iron and fibre. Walnuts are also a good source of magnesium. If you don’t like walnuts, don’t worry, you can derive the same health benefits from pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts,in other words_ all other nuts are good for you.
Walnuts have been associated with helping to prevent gallstones. This was made evident in data collected from over 80,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. Results from this study showed that women who eat at least 1 ounce of nuts or nut butter each week tend to have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones. I would say for males, start enjoying some nuts and you too may benefit in this way.
Nuts and seeds in general are good sources of the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid is often sold in health food stores and no wonder, it is needed to make serotonin and melatonin, natural sleep aids. If you have difficulty sleeping or find you are waking up tired in the mornings, you might want to try incorporating more nuts and seeds in your diet. This is a great way to save money and get a good night’s sleep! The level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, rises as night approaches. Serotonin is important in helping to regulate many functions such as mood, and sleep. Another important by-product of tryptophan is melatonin. This is a hormone as well as a powerful antioxidant. Melatonin is also produced at night and regulates the sleep/wake cycle. Some people are deficient in serotonin, especially women, and this affects the amount of melatonin produced. Without enough of these brain chemicals it is hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
To improve your chances of having a good night’s sleep here are a few suggestions for getting more natural sources of tryptophan: try incorporating into your daily diet a variety of nuts, seeds and foods such as lean turkey,oats, bananas, dried dates and yogurt.
In Health and Happiness, Your Weekly Coach,
Phyllis Reid Jarvis