Walnut oil is extracted by pressing whole walnuts. It has a nutty, delicate flavor and contains some of the beneficial nutrients and compounds found in walnuts, including unsaturated fatty acids and plant compounds called polyphenols.
Consuming walnut oil may improve heart health, lower blood sugar, and have anticancer effects. However, studies have mostly focused on whole walnuts rather than walnut oil.
This article highlights seven promising benefits of walnut oil.
1. Can boost skin health
The nutrients in walnut oil may promote good skin health.
One tablespoon (13.6 grams) of walnut oil contains more than 8 grams, or over 5 times the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha- linolenic acid (ALA).
In your body, some ALA is converted into the longer forms of omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which help form the structural components of your skin. Thatâ€™s why omega-3s, including those in walnut oil, may stimulate skin growth, fight inflammatory skin disorders, and promote wound healing. Whatâ€™s more, walnut oil contains high amounts of the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid (LA), the most predominant fatty acid in the outermost layer of your skin.
In short, consuming walnut oil boosts your intake of essential fatty acids that are vital to skin health. Walnuts are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, including the omega-3 ALA and the omega-6 LA, both of which are essential for healthy skin.
2. May decrease inflammation
Adding walnut oil to your diet may fight chronic inflammation, which has been linked to heart disease, some cancers, and other health issues. One 6-week study in 23 adults with high cholesterol found that a diet high in ALA, one of the main fatty acids in walnut oil, decreased the production of inflammatory proteins in the body.
Walnuts are also rich in polyphenols called ellagitannins, which your gut bacteria convert into other beneficial compounds. These compounds may have anti-inflammatory properties and act as antioxidants that fight cell damage caused by molecules called free radicals. This may explain why test-tube studies have found that walnut oil can fight inflammation and increase cell antioxidant activity.
However, itâ€™s unclear to what extent the beneficial compounds in walnuts are preserved during the processing of walnut oil. Some studies suggest that walnut oil contributes no more than 5% of the antioxidant activity of whole walnuts. Thus, more research on the anti-inflammatory effects of walnut oil is needed.
Walnut oil may reduce inflammation thanks to its content of ALA and ellagitannins.
3. Helps lower blood pressure
Walnut oil may help lower high blood pressure, one of the main risk factors for heart disease. Studies suggest that diets rich in whole walnuts can help lower blood pressure, likely because of their high levels of ALA, LA, and polyphenols. Given that walnut oil is also rich in these compounds, it may exert similar effects.
One study in 15 adults with overweight or obesity and moderately high cholesterol levels found that consuming walnut oil significantly improved blood vessel function, which in turn could help lower blood pressure.
However, more studies on walnut oilâ€™s potential effects on blood pressure are needed. Studies suggest that consuming walnuts and walnut oil may improve blood vessel function and lead to lower blood pressure.
4. Improves blood sugar control
Consuming walnut oil may improve poor blood sugar control associated with type 2 diabetes. Over time, unmanaged blood sugar levels can lead to eye and kidney damage, heart disease, and stroke. Eating foods that lower your blood sugar, including walnut oil, can help prevent these complications.
One study in 100 people with type 2 diabetes found that consuming 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of walnut oil daily for 3 months significantly lowered fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels, which measure long-term blood sugar, compared with baseline levels.
The beneficial effects of walnut oil on blood sugar control may be due to its high concentration of antioxidants, which can help fight oxidative stress associated with high blood sugar levels. Research suggests that consuming walnut oil may help people with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels.
5. Improves cholesterol levels
Regularly eating walnuts may help lower high blood levels of triglycerides and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can otherwise increase your risk of heart disease. This may be due to walnutsâ€™ high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant compounds, both of which are also found in walnut oil.
One study in 60 adults with high levels of triglycerides found that those who took a daily capsule containing 3 grams of walnut oil for 45 days had significantly lower blood levels of triglycerides, compared with their baseline levels. Based on these results, adding walnut oil to your diet may help reduce your risk of heart disease, but more research is needed.
Consuming walnut oil may lead to lower levels of triglycerides and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
6. May have anticancer effects
Certain compounds in walnut oil may help prevent the progression of some cancers.
Specifically, your body converts the ellagitannins in walnuts into ellagic acid and then further into compounds called urolithins. One test-tube study found that urolithins may help regulate levels of prostate- specific antigen (PSA) â€” a risk factor for prostate cancer â€” and trigger cancer cell death.
Consuming walnuts has also been linked to lower risks of breast and colorectal cancer in animal and observational studies. However, more extensive research focusing on the effects of walnut oil in humans is needed before conclusions can be drawn about its anticancer effects.
Walnut intake has been linked to a decreased risk of some cancers. This is likely due to its content of compounds called urolithins, which are derived from ellagitannins. However, no studies have investigated the anticancer effects of walnut oil.
7. Easy to add to your diet
Walnut oil is easy to find and can be used in many ways. It typically has a light color and delicate, nutty taste. The most high-quality walnut oils are cold-pressed and unrefined, as processing and heat can destroy some nutrients and lead to a bitter taste.
Itâ€™s not recommended to use walnut oil for stir-fries or high-heat cooking. Additionally, most walnut oils can only be kept for 1â€“2 months in a cool, dry place after being opened before going rancid.
The most common use for walnut oil is as an ingredient in salad dressings with vinegar and seasonings. It also tastes delicious drizzled over steamed vegetables.
You can find walnut oil at health food and specialty grocery stores, as well as online. Itâ€™s typically more expensive than other oils. Cold-pressed, unrefined walnut oil has a delicious, nutty taste. Itâ€™s primarily used in salad dressings and other cold dishes.
The bottom line
Walnut oil is a delicious, nutty oil made by pressing whole walnuts. Itâ€™s rich in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA and other unsaturated fatty acids, as well as ellagitannins and other polyphenol compounds that act as antioxidants. Thus, consuming walnut oil may improve blood sugar levels and boost heart health, among several other benefits. Yet, more research is needed. To reap the possible benefits of walnut oil, try using it in salad dressings and other cold dishes.
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