Can you eat raw walnuts?

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question “can you eat raw walnuts?”, and discuss its various health benefits.

Yes, you can eat raw walnuts and they are very nutritious. Their kernels are wet and milky white when they are picked young; however, the most commonly consumed nuts are dried nuts, which have brown kernels and are often roasted to get the real nutty flavor.

They are roasted because it brings out more of the nutty flavor and improves their taste. They are roasted using dry heat without the shells.

Walnuts are a good source of proteins, fibers, and good fats. They have various benefits for heart and bone health.

Do raw walnuts poison you?

Walnuts can become toxic if a certain type of fungi grows in them. These fungi can contaminate walnuts and produce a carcinogen toxin called aflatoxin. This toxin is very heat resistant and may even survive roasting.

How to eat walnuts?

Walnuts can be eaten directly by taking them out of their shell. Roasting them is not a compulsion. However, soaking the walnuts overnight and then consuming them in the morning is the best practice. In this way, they are easier to digest and offer the maximum nutrients.

Moreover, by soaking walnuts, you can reduce their astringent taste and greatly decrease the tannins present in them. Tannins cause less absorption of minerals present in the walnuts.

Different ways to eat walnuts

The best thing about these dried nuts is that they can be eaten in various ways and with different food items. They can be roasted and crushed afterwards to sprinkle on bread to give a nutty touch to your bread.

Moreover, walnuts can be crushed and used in shakes to boost the protein contents and deliver the essential fatty acids with those proteins.

Dried walnuts can be used to make various condiments and served with different foods.

Nutritional value of walnuts

Walnuts are rich in many nutrients, the highest of them is fat content. Walnuts are high in saturated, unsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, but most of these are healthy fats that benefit heart health and decrease circulating cholesterol.

1 cup (30 grams) of walnuts contain:

  • Energy: 200 calories
  • Carbohydrate 3.89 grams (g)
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Calcium: 20 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron: 0.72 mg
  • Sodium: 0 mg

It is also a source of many healthy minerals:

  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • vitamin B6
  • Iron

Fats

Walnuts are high energy nuts because of their high content of fats. Most of the calories in walnuts are due to fats in them. Fats comprise about 65% of the weight of the walnut.

Despite the high levels of fats in them, they are considered safe and healthy for consumption. This is due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts are the only nuts that have high levels of this fatty acid, which is linked to a healthy heart and reduced inflammation in the body.

Vitamins and minerals

Walnuts are an excellent source of various minerals and vitamins that are needed by the body. Some of the important minerals and vitamins are:

  • Copper
  • Folic acid
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B6
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin E

Other important nutrients

Walnuts have very high levels of antioxidants and they ranked second among the 1,113 foods that are rich in antioxidants. There is no doubt that these nuts are an exemplary source of beneficial nutrients, which include:

  • Ellagic acid
  • Catechin
  • Melatonin
  • Phytic acid

Health benefits of walnuts

Heart health

Many heart conditions can be avoided by integrating nuts into your diet. The essential nutrients from these nuts improve heart functions by:

  • lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • reducing inflammation
  • improving blood vessel function, thus cutting the risk of plaque build-up in your arteries

Prevent cancer

The many minerals in walnuts can aid in preventing tumor growth. Several compounds that may have anti-cancer activity are:

  • Phytosterols
  • Gamma-tocopherol
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • ellagic acid and related compounds
  • various antioxidant polyphenols

Brain health

Walnuts can play an important role in improving many brain functions and have been shown to promote a healthier brain and help in depression.

Its effects are being studied in Alzheimer’s disease, likely due to the presence of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.

Walnut allergy

The symptoms of walnut allergy can be drastic and may induce anaphylactic shock in those who are allergic to walnuts. This shock could be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Side effects of consuming walnuts

As mentioned above, despite the high fats available in walnuts, they are not harmful for consumption. Instead, walnuts are high in phytic acids that cause less mineral absorption.  

This is not a serious risk to worry about, as this adverse effect is only applicable if phytates are present in levels higher than certain levels, where they can cause a mineral deficiency in the body.  

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question “Can you eat raw walnuts?”, and listed various nutrients present in them and their health benefits.

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/walnuts#downsides
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/309834#health_benefits

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/walnut-glossary#:~:text=Walnuts%20can%20be%20eaten%20 raw,when%20the%20kernels%20turn%20golden.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.