11 amazing benefits and uses of walnuts

by Chetana


The anti-fungal properties of walnut oil make it great for the treatment of fungal infections like athlete’s foot and candida. This oil can be applied topically on the affected areas or mixed with other herbal anti-fungal ingredients such as garlic to enhance its effectiveness. 

Nuts are a good source of nutrients which play an important role in the maintenance of overall health. Walnuts are probably one of the most nutritious nuts available which is why, they are often referred to as the ‘Imperial nut’. Walnuts are round, single seeded fruits of the walnut tree growing in temperate regions. Each walnut is enclosed in a green, leathery fleshy husk which is inedible. When the husk is removed, it reveals the wrinkly walnut shell joined in two halves which are off white in color and covered by a paper-thin light brown skin.

This hard shell encloses the kernel which is edible. The seed kernels are enclosed in a brown seed coat which contains antioxidants. These antioxidants protect the seed from atmospheric oxygen, thus preventing rancidity. Each nut is roughly spherical in shape, about the size of a small lemon and weighs about 10 to 15 grams.

Walnuts are usually ready for harvesting in the month of August when the thick green hull cracks open to reveal the light brown colored nut. There are generally two varieties of walnuts- Persian/English walnut and black walnut. The Persian or English walnut has its origin in Persia and is produced commercially. The black walnut has a high flavor but it has a smaller kernel and an extremely tough shell. Due to its poor hulling characteristics, it is not grown commercially for nut production. Since ancient times, walnut has been regarded as a symbol of intellectuality not only due to the resemblance of its shell to the human brain but also because of its health benefitting nutrients, particularly omega- 3 fatty acids. Ancient Romans used it as a delicacy as well as to dye wool and color hair. Oil extracted from walnuts is used in cooking and as a base or carrier oil in medicine and aromatherapy.

Walnut: Skin Benefits

Most nuts are good for skin and walnut is no exception. The wide array of nutrients in this nut, particularly omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E helps to maintain a nourished and smooth complexion. The benefits of walnuts in skincare are as follows.

1.Anti-ageing Benefits

Walnuts are rich in antioxidants which counter the action of free radicals that can harm your cells and accelerate the ageing process. Walnut oil has been used since the 17th century as a remedy for wrinkles, thanks to its high levels of essential nutrients and rich minerals. Though this oil is greasy and rich, applying it on your face helps treat wrinkles and fine lines, thus making your skin look younger.

2. Improves Skin Quality

Both walnuts and their oil contain abundant amounts of vitamins B1, B2 and B3 as well as vitamin E and B complex. The phytonutrients and fatty acids present in walnut oil improve the texture and quality of your skin.

3. Treatment of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a persistent, painful skin ailment that can be alleviated by using walnut oil. You can add this oil to your bath or apply it topically on your skin for an hour to soothe the inflammation caused by psoriasis.

4. Treatment of Skin Infection

The anti-fungal properties of walnut oil make it great for the treatment of fungal infections like athlete’s foot and candida. This oil can be applied topically on the affected areas or mixed with other herbal anti-fungal ingredients such as garlic to enhance its effectiveness.

5. Treatment of Eczema

Omega-3 fatty acids contained in walnut oil help in treating eczema. All you need to do is mix some garlic juice with walnut oil and apply it on the eczema affected area. Do this regularly to experience beneficial results within 10 days.

6. Healing Qualities 

Walnuts contain amino acids which are naturally found in healthy skin. Thus, eating walnuts is a natural way of making your skin beautiful, healthy and damage resistant. They also contain Vitamin E which is a skin friendly antioxidant. Taking it internally makes your skin softer and accelerates healing of injured skin.

Walnut: Hair Benefits 

Walnuts are considered the most hair friendly among all nuts, primarily due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids as well as zinc, iron, B vitamins (B1, B6 and B9) and abundant amounts of protein. These nuts offer the following benefits for your hair.

7. Prevents Hair Loss 

Omega-3 fatty acids in walnut oil form a vital part of cell structure as they stop dehydration of cells and maintain the physical property. In this way, walnut oil hydrates your scalp, thus preventing dry scalp which is a cause of hair loss.

8. Prevents Dandruff

Dandruff is a common problem these days, which if left unattended can lead to severe hair loss. Walnuts contain alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that helps condition your hair. Walnut oil moisturizes your scalp region to ensure that the skin does not become flaky. Thus, topical application of this oil helps in preventing dandruff.

9. Promotes Hair Growth 

Walnut oil also contains minerals like potassium and copper which play an important role in promoting hair growth. Deficiency of potassium can disable the cells to repair and regenerate which might cause hair loss and even balding. Copper, on the other hand, is required for the synthesis of the melanin pigment, deficiency of which can cause stained and lack luster hair.

Thus, topical application of this oil can invigorate hair growth.

10. Anti-ageing Property

The anti-ageing property of walnuts can be attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids. This property enables it to work at the cellular level to prevent cell damage or cell death resulting in hairless patterns or hair loss.

 11. Anti-fungal Properties 

The anti-fungal properties of walnut oil prevent fungal infections, thus stimulating hair growth and providing you with a clean and healthy scalp.

How to Select and Store? 

Selection: Walnuts are available in the months of September to November in three different sizes- large, medium and baby size. In the markets, they are displayed for sale all the year round in several forms such as shelled, unshelled, salted, sweetened and ground walnuts. While buying shelled walnuts, look for plump, crisp nutmeats. Shelled nuts should be brittle, compact, and uniform in size, plus heavy in hand.

The nuts that grow on the sunnier side of the tree generally have a darker brown color and richer flavor. They should be free from cracks, molds, spots and rancid smell. While buying shelled walnuts, ensure that the shells are not cracked, pierced or stained which often indicates mold development in the nutmeat, rendering it unfit for consumption. Shelled nuts are also available in pre-packaged containers and bulk bins. While buying them, ensure that the bins containing them are covered and the store has a good product turnover to ensure their freshness. Avoid the nuts that look rubbery and shriveled as this is an indication of age. Smell the nuts, if possible, to ensure that they are not rancid.

It is advisable to buy whole unshelled nuts rather than processed ones, as the latter are often treated with ethylene gas, fumigated with methyl bromide, and dipped in a solution of glycerin and sodium carbonate to loosen their skins and then rinsed in citric acid.


The high content of polyunsaturated fats in walnuts makes them highly perishable and hence, they should be stored with immense care. Unshelled walnuts should be kept in a cool, dark and dry place where they can last up to 6 months. Shelled kernels should be placed in an airtight container and kept in a refrigerator for up to 6 months or placed in the freezer where they will last for a year. Walnuts should be used as soon as possible as they turn rancid quickly.

Tips for Usage (Cooking/Eating)

These slightly bitter but extremely crunchy nuts are mostly eaten on their own. Their shells can be broken by using a nutcracker machine. The outermost whitish part of the shelled walnut which is sometimes flaky and sometimes waxy is the walnut skin. While eating or preparing walnuts, it is advisable to include its skin, as 90% of the phenols in walnuts such as key phenolic acids, tannins and flavonoids are found in the skin. Given below are a few tips to enjoy these delicious and crunchy nuts.

1. Being extremely versatile, walnuts can be added to hot and cold cereal, used as a crust for fish or mixed into salads. They can also be used as a substitute for pine nuts in pesto recipes.

2. Walnut kernels can be roasted, salted and sweetened to explore their flavor. You can roast them at home in an oven at about 75 degrees C for 15 to 20 minutes to preserve the healthy oils.

3. Crushed walnut kernels can be sprinkled over salads and desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based preparations.

4. Due to their nutty yet pleasantly sweet taste, walnuts are often added as toppings in yoghurt, pizzas, pies etc. Crushed walnuts can be mixed with plain yoghurt and topped with maple syrup.

5. Walnuts can be added to sautéed vegetables and salads. You can prepare a healthy salad by combining toasted walnuts with watermelon, blueberries and bell peppers. Toss them in vinaigrette prepared from lime juice, oil, honey, salt and pepper.

6. Candied walnuts are often used as seafood toppings. They are also used in confectionery as an addition to biscuits, sweets and cakes.

7. Walnuts can be pureed with cooked lentils and other herbs and spices of your choice in a food processor. Olive or flax oil can be added to it to obtain a dip like consistency.

8. Walnuts are also used to make walnut butter, which is quite popular, especially among those who are allergic to peanuts.

9. In the Middle East, walnuts are combined with other nuts like almonds, dates and raisins to prepare a Ramadan special pastry known as ma’amoul.

10. You can make walnut granola at home by mixing about ½ cup of honey, a tablespoon of vanilla, 3 to 4 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses, a dash of salt and a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and/or nutmeg. Toss 6 to 8 cups of rolled oats with the honey blackstrap mixture in a large bowl. Now spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 135 degrees C for about 45 minutes. After cooling, mix with ½ to 1 cup of walnuts.


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