Beneficial effects of walnut consumption on human health: role of micronutrients

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Nuts in general and walnuts in particular are in the limelight for the association of their consumption with improved health outcomes. Walnuts have an optimal composition in bioactive nutrients and recent clinical and experimental studies have uncovered a number of beneficial effects of walnut micronutrients, working in isolation or in concert, on metabolic pathways and clinical outcomes that make this review timely and relevant.

Recent findings

Alpha-linolenic acid, a critical walnut component, is metabolized into bioactive oxylipins, has been shown to protect microglial cells from inflammation, and is associated with lower fatal myocardial infarction rates through a putative antiarrhythmic effect. Phytosterols relate to the cholesterol-lowering effect of nut consumption. Nonsodium minerals are associated with better cardiometabolic health. Walnut phytomelatonin has anticancer effects that are shared by the main walnut polyphenols and their metabolites, ellagitannins and urolithins, respectively.

Summary

This review highlights new evidence on the health-promoting properties of walnuts and their main micronutrient components. The conclusion is that walnuts are optimal healthful foods.

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