Articulate, passionate and humorous, Dr. Holly Lucille breaks down the myths and misconceptions about health and health related topics.

Wild About Walnuts: The Best Nut for Boosting Your Overall Health

From the Show: Mindful Medicine
Summary: Learn about the six amazing health benefits walnuts provide.
Air Date: 2/25/15
Duration: 10
Host: Holly Lucille, ND, RN
Wild About Walnuts: The Best Nut for Boosting Your Overall Health
From hearth health to brain-boosting goodness, walnuts have been clinically studied to be one of the healthiest nuts around.

Even though walnuts might have a weird appearance, they are known to be one of the healthiest nuts to eat. Walnuts have been around for thousands of years and are massively produced in the United States, mainly in California.

What are some of the health benefits you get from eating walnuts?
  • Fight against cancer
  • Boost heart health
  • Aid in weight-loss
  • Improve reproductive health in men
  • Boost brain health
  • Fight against diabetes
Listen in and learn why walnuts need to be on the top of your grocery list.

RadioMD Presents:The Dr. Holly Lucille Show | Original Air Date: February 25, 2015
Host: Holly Lucille, ND, RN

The best of both conventional and alternative medicine. It's the Dr. Holly Lucille show. Here's Dr. Holly.

DR. HOLLY: Hey, folks. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm going to talk about being wild. Wild about walnuts. It is my favorite nut. I don't know. There's just something about the texture. There's something about the heftiness of it. There's something about the taste and the diversity and it's just--I love it! I love it! I love it! It is one of the oldest known tree foods around and it's so healthy for you and I'm going to talk about why it should be at the top of your grocery list. I love nuts, of course, in moderation because, why? You know, they're chock full of lovely, great fats. Fats have calories in them, but gosh, darn it, being part of your diet, it's really that walnuts, I think, are a big ol' superfood that we don't really talk about.

You know, in the ancient Mediterranean world, the walnut was considered one of the most important nuts, both from a health standpoint and, guess what else? I think this is pretty impressive—a status standpoint. They were called "Jupiter's Royal Acorn" and in the late 1700's—just a little history on these walnuts—the Franciscan priests brought the walnut to California and it flourished in the Mediterranean-like climate that we have here. Today walnuts account for about 99% of the commercial U.S. supply and more than 2/3 of the world trade. Other countries grow some walnuts, but, hey, right here in California, we've got the most.

So, here's the thing that I want to bring you. It's studies. There have been clinical studies. You know, a lot of times, there's still come confusion about, "Oh, you're a naturopathic doctor. Well, what is that exactly?" You know, you try to do as much education as possible. I'm like, "Well, I'm a licensed care provider. I'm a primary care provider, actually, here in the state of California. I can diagnose and treat. I practice medicine, but I just do this in a way where I'm partnering with somebody and I make sure that I'm asking great questions and identifying and treating the cause." A lot of times, people will give us push-back and like, "Well, it's not evidence-based. It's not evidence-based." And, it's just—I scratch my head at that because, you know, it's important, I think, that people are all full of opinions and they say things all the time, right? Well, I know for a fact that because it's in the medical journals that the evidenced-based appropriate use of prescription medications and over the counter medications, when they're used appropriately--I'm not talking about being abused are--I think at this point in time, they're about the 5th leading cause of death. We don't talk about it.

It happens all the time and I do have evidence that these things work. They're studies. They're clinically studied all the time. We do have to understand that large clinical data to get those data points costs a tremendous amount of money and, first of all, you can't patent a natural substance. So, those patents, it's not the same business model, for the most part.

But, walnuts—getting back to the walnuts, I should say. They're loaded with heart helping, disease fighting, body boosting elements that all work synergistically. I love that, right? So, it's not just a one-off. There's different things that happen to benefit our health. So, walnuts, first of all, they contain a high amount of the Omega-3 fat, alpha linoleic acid. So, this particular Omega-3 is plant-based, unlike when we talk about docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA and EPA. That's eicosapentaenoic acid.

Those are from fish oil and fish. This is a plant-based. That said, researchers have shown that those who eat a diet rich in ALA, or that alpha linoleic acid, are less likely to suffer from heart-related ailments. There was a study published in The Journal of Food Medicinal that indicated that eating just one ounce of walnuts per day can decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease. There's other research out there. There's Public and Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, which is a journal, that demonstrated that eating just four walnuts a day could raise your blood levels of ALA. Now, ALA, while it is an anti-inflammatory, may also prevent the formation of blood clots. Folks! Four! Four walnuts a day. Absolutely amazing for heart health. There's more. There was a study that I read the other day in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I could go on.

But, let's go also diabetes control. It is no secret that heart disease and diabetes are closely related and evidence has shown that eating walnuts may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. Okay, for a 10 year period—that's a long study, folks, and it's important to listen to a long study like that--researchers followed nearly 138,000 women and monitored their walnut intake. Yes. I bet that was a fun study. As reported in The Journal of Nutrition, they found that those who ate 2 or more one ounce servings of walnuts per week--Okay. We're not on a daily basis anymore, but per week--were 24% less likely to develop diabetes than those who ate fewer or no walnuts. Holy crap. That's a long study. Pretty great evidence there.

Another study appearing in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that overweight adults with type 2 diabetes who ate ¼ cup of walnuts daily showed significant reduction in fasting insulin levels compared to those who did not eat walnuts. And that benefit was achieved within the first 3 months. So, it happens pretty darn quickly.

You can change your diet easily and quickly to get results. Food can be causative or curative to how you're feeling and what the status of your health is. Walnuts? We're showing how it can happen. So, there's diabetes, heart disease, brain boosting. Many compounds are found within walnuts. So, we've got Vitamin E, folate, melatonin, actually, Omega-3s and other antioxidants, they all have been clinically studied to support brain health. Certainly, the deficiency in Omega-3, in particular, has been linked to cognitive problems.

I see it all the time. People that, you know, they want to blame it--I have women coming in my office and they're like, "Oh, my menopausal mind. You know?" Or, "Oh, I've got baby brain." And, especially when you have a baby because that baby will take anything it needs to survive and grow as best as it can and it steals it from the mom. So, having a deficiency of Omega-3s--I think I made up this word--but if you replete something that is depleted, you can fix that and I've seen it happen all the time. The brain needs these fats to function properly, yet many Americans fail to get enough in their diet.

One study at Perdue University demonstrated that children with lower concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids displayed a higher risk of hyperactivity, learning disorders and behavioral problems.

As soon as any parents bring in their children to my office because they're having behavioral problems, this is definitely high on my list to check out and understand what their status of Omega-3s and essential fatty acids or what that fatty acid breakdown is in their body. Yes, there's a test that can do if we need to get there, but sometimes just having an intaker looking at your own diet and going, "Hey. Maybe I need to pump up my Omega-3s," and you can do it in a plant-sourced type of way. Walnuts is a great source of that. There was also a study in The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease reporting that increased consumption of walnuts, but not other nuts, okay? So, we're wild about walnuts today—was associated with better working memory scores. The researcher attributed this to the nut's high polyphenol content, thinking that these antioxidants may be the key factor to preserving memory. So, holy moly.

Alright. Let's go into weight management. You know, are you thinking I just said, "Hey, moderation." Some people totally stay clear of all nuts, in general, because of their fat content. I said, "Hey, we've got to maybe watch out, but there was a Journal of Lipid Research, okay? And this was a study. It was published. That found that regular walnut intake did not lead to weight gain. And, the study included male participants with high cholesterol and actually found that in a 6 week period, the men who were eating walnuts showed a 6% decrease in their low-density lipoproteins. Okay, that is what we know.

Now, I say there's no bad cholesterol, but we want them in proportion. So, that was a 6% decrease. Now, when enjoyed at the proper portion size, walnuts can completely actually help manage your weight. One of the reasons, I think, is it contains fiber which helps you feel full and fat is very satiating. It helps you to feel satisfied. So, you ultimately eat less or mindlessly snack less on unhealthy foods. They are high—quite high—in calories, so do, like I said, reap the benefits and maintain your weight with moderation.

But, on a daily basis, you can eat walnuts. Also, the last thing I want to share is there was a similar study done at the Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia showing that mice that were fed the human equivalent of 2 ounces of walnuts daily had significant decrease in breast tumors. So, there's a hint also of cancer-fighting compounds, gamma tocopherol, a form of Vitamin E that is found in walnuts, is responsible for that. Going wild about walnuts here on RadioMD.

Thanks for listening, folks. You can follow us on Twitter or Facebook @YourRadioMD. I'm Dr. Holly Lucille. This is Mindful Medicine. I just want you to wake up, use your own mind and really get healthy.

Thanks so much. We'll be right back.