We all know that nuts have tremendous amounts of saturated fat. So, is walnut oil healthy? Does the saturated fat in nuts make it ‘unhealthy’? Let’s discuss the nutrients and the health benefits that walnut oil can offer.
Walnuts are the world’s healthiest nut. And so it’s kernel extract ⎻ the walnut oil. It offers many health benefits to our heart, brain, bones, skin, and hair, plus not to mention that it is overflowing with omega-3 and 6 that are beneficial to your blood vessels, so it definitely is healthy.
All things when in excess tend to be harmful, right? Walnut oil is healthy, however, we must always use them in moderation for our optimal well-being. So, my blog is here for you to inform you of all the reasons you need to know it is healthy, though nuts are generally fatty.
Is Walnut Oil Healthy As Eating Walnuts?
Walnuts (Juglans regia) are a delicious way to add an extra crunchy and nutty flavor to your meals. It has fifteen different varieties, with the main types including the English/Persian walnut, black walnut, and white walnut. Walnuts are well-protected from light, heat, moisture, and water due to their hard shells. Due to this reason, they make the perfect food for long journeys across many oceans throughout the globe.
They contain flavonoids, phospholipids, sphingolipids, hydrocarbons, phytosterols, triterpenes, quinones, tannins, and fatty acids. In the culinary field, they are incorporated in bakery items, beef jerky snacks, and ready-to-eat meals. They can also be made into walnut oil, walnut meal, walnut milk, and walnut butter (also called walnut paste).
Walnut oil comes in two primary varieties, the ‘unrefined’ cold-pressed and the refined. Cold-pressed walnut oil, the most expensive variety is made by grinding the walnuts into a paste and pressing it to separate the oil and the solids without the use of chemicals, so it might taste a little bitter. The refined variety is made by applying extreme pressure to extract the oil using a solvent, so it won’t have the pure and bold ‘walnut-ty’ taste, unlike the unrefined.
And yes, walnut oil is as healthy as eating walnuts. Though the oil has been extracted from the kernel itself, it still is healthy and safe for you to eat. Read below for more information about walnut oil.
Is Walnut Oil Better Than Olive Oil?
A comparison of the nutritional values of walnut oil and olive oil is tabulated below, both with a measure of 1 cup (about 218 grams and 216 grams), respectively:
|Per 1 cup||Walnut Oil||Olive Oil|
|Protein||0 g||0 g|
|Carbohydrates||0 g||0 g|
|Fibers||0 g||0 g|
|Sugars||0 g||0 g|
|Total Fat |
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA)
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)
Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids
|216 g |
|Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)||0.9 mg||31.0 mg|
|Vitamin K||32.7 mcg||130 mcg|
I would say that both oils have their own strengths and weaknesses. Both of them have a good fatty acid balance, too. But, if we will compare them, walnuts tend to have higher calories, total fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and omega-3 and 6. Olive oil, when compared, has higher saturated fat, monounsaturated fat (MUFA), phytosterols, and vitamins E and K.
Omega-3 helps in lowering risks for heart diseases. They also decrease cholesterol, stabilize the heart by reducing the heart rate and prevent arrhythmia, and lower triglyceride levels that help prevent plaque buildup (atherogenesis) in arteries and other blood vessels by putting less strain on your heart. They also help in reducing the risks for autoimmune diseases and reduce inflammation in the body that may lead to chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD), arthritis, and possibly depression.
Omega-3 is classified into three main types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They cannot be made naturally from the body, therefore they are obtained from our diet. EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fishes, which include salmon, mackerel, and trout. ALA is found in vegetable oils, flaxseed, walnuts, and dark leafy vegetables like spinach.
The body can convert very small amounts of ALA into EPA and DHA, which help in preventing heart diseases. Once changed, the EPA and DHA play a vital role in proper fetal development, including neuronal, retinal, and immunological functions. These two also affect many aspects of cardiovascular functioning, such as inflammation, peripheral artery disease (PAD), major coronary events, and anticoagulation.
Omega-6 are essential fatty acids for maintaining healthy cellular structures and cell processes. The most common form of omega-6 is linoleic acid, which is said to lower heart attack rates and lower cholesterol. Together with omega-3, they keep integral cell function and control cell damage. However, excess of these two fatty acids may contribute to inflammation and potentiate the risk of various diseases.
Additionally, both oils don’t have any vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and B vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and folate. Walnuts don’t have minerals, such as sodium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese; in contrast with olive oil, it has 2.2 milligrams for both calcium and potassium, 1.2 milligrams for iron, and 4.3. milligrams for sodium.
Walnuts are bursting with great amounts of antioxidants which may help improve our memory and concentration. On the contrary, olive oil, especially the extra virgin olive oil (the least processed olive oil variety), exhibits high antioxidant levels, too. Both oils could therefore be used as a cardioprotective.
Moreover, though walnut oil has a bit lower levels of phytosterols than olive oil, it can still help by blocking cholesterol from being absorbed in the body. These plant sterols are found in all plant foods, but their highest concentrations are found in unrefined oils (such as cold-pressed walnut oil and olive oil), whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Walnut oil also has significant amounts of ellagic acid. This polyphenol is naturally found in fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and of course, walnuts. Its mechanism of action is by binding to chemicals that cause cancer, thus preventing cancer cell growth and improving the safety and efficacy of some chemotherapeutic drugs.
Olive oil and walnut oil are often compared to each other. Olive oil is mainly used as cooking oil to roast vegetables, make sauces, pan-fry fish, and dress a salad. However, these many uses of olive oil are not applicable with walnut oil since it is a bit costly and because of its low smoke point. Borrowing this line from The Spruce Eats, ‘overall, olive oil proves more versatile, but walnut oil offers a unique flavor and adds a subtle nuttiness when it’s used’.
What are the Health Benefits of Walnut Oil?
Historically, the Romans used walnuts in counteracting poisons and treating skin conditions while the Chinese used them to detoxify the kidneys, nourish the blood, and promote a healthy digestive tract. As science and medicine further developed, scientists have testified the walnuts’ health-boosting effects.
Healthy Heart And Atherogenesis
As we saw in the table above, walnuts are a rich source of both omega-3 and omega-6. Most of the walnut’s omega-3 fat content is ALA, which is considered a ‘good fat’ because it can decrease the risk of developing heart diseases and has anti-atherogenic potential. This same omega-3 can also reduce cholesterol levels which is the main cause of clogged arteries. Walnut oil also helps in decreasing triglyceride levels, increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or the ‘good cholesterol’, decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or the ‘bad cholesterol’, and keeping blood pressure levels normal.
Diabetes Control And Prevention
Since walnut oil has high antioxidant levels, it can decrease blood sugar levels, hence, it could reduce the risk of developing diabetes. It also shows anti-inflammatory benefits, primarily due to its high PUFA content. Though Inflammation is a body’s natural response to stress and infection, it can cause insulin resistance by blocking the body’s ability to use sugars, resulting in a higher risk of obesity and diabetes.
As stated above, walnut oil’s omega-3 fatty acid content may help in reducing the overall inflammation in our body. They could help in decreasing chronic inflammation which contributes to several health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and inflammatory skin conditions, like psoriasis.
The omega-3 in walnut oil can decrease the risk of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions that cause cognitive decline, however, most of these studies are tested only in mice. In one study, the mice were administered with scopolamine-induced memory dysfunction, and walnut oil has been shown to prevent memory impairment.
It also significantly reduced the severity of multiple sclerosis, inhibited plaque formation, and altered the production of cytokines in another mice study. More studies are still needed to further confirm its antidementia role in the human brain.
Better Skin And Hair
Both the omega-3 and omega-6 found in walnut oil may promote better skin health, faster wound healing, and cure eczema, acne, and even some skin cancers. Its anti-inflammatory effect can also help alleviate sunburn, itchy scalp, skin ulcers, dandruff, and skin blisters. It is also one of the components of dry skin creams, anti-wrinkle, and anti-aging products since it possesses moisturizing activity and free radical scavenging capacity.
It also helps in fighting hair loss with the help of omega-3 which prevent cellular damage. They can be used directly as a massage oil and is suitable for aromatherapy. They are one of the several components in making lip balms, skin toning products, and body oils.
One study showed that walnut oil has promising osteoblastic activity. This is particularly due to its high ellagic acid content. One study showed that when the arterial cells were exposed to ellagic acid, they were less likely to progress to vascular cell adhesion which leads to cardiovascular disease.
The EFA in walnut oil can also increase calcium absorption, reduce urinary calcium excretion, increase calcium deposition in bone, and improve bone strength by enhancing the synthesis of collagen. The omega-3 in the walnut inhibited osteoclast activity, as well.
To define, osteoblast is cells that assist in bone formation while osteoclast is cells that resorb (or fuse) bone. Osteoclasts maintain the balance of bone metabolism by helping the osteoblasts, and if its amount is excessive, it could lead to bone disorders, such as osteoporosis, periprosthetic osteolysis, bone tumors, and Paget’s disease of the bone.
Several studies suggested that walnut oil’s nutrients can delay the growth of cancer cells. Also, its antioxidants help in preventing cell damage which ultimately causes cancer. According to one study, an ounce of walnuts everyday showed a 15% lower cancer risk.
Additionally, the ellagic acid in walnut oil could have a chemopreventive property. It exerts anticancer effects through its antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic actions. In one adenocarcinoma study, ellagic acid induced apoptosis of colon cancer cells via the mitochondrial pathway.
Walnut Oil As An Antimicrobial
Walnut oil was shown to be effective against several Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, such as Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. It has also shown a moderate antimicrobial effect against Cutibacterium acnes and Escherichia coli. It was also effective in inhibiting Malassezia furfur and Candida albicans growth in vitro.
Where Can You Use Walnut Oil?
Walnut oil has been widely applied in diets and cooking due to its ability to replenish vital energy and nourish our bodies. They are mainly used in sautéing vegetables, in whisking vinaigrette, and as a drizzle over steamed or seared fish, roasted veggies, pasta, grains, bruschetta, frilled or poached fruit, or even a cheese plate.
It is really not used as a cooking oil since it has a low smoke point (about 320°F for unrefined walnut oil and 400°F for semi-refined) which can make the oil fade away its natural walnut flavor, destroy its beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals, and may have the food taste bitter. The smoke point, according to The Globe and Mail, is the temperature at which an oil starts to burn and smoke. Also, one important note here is that the more refined an oil is, the higher its smoke point. Therefore, oils such as walnut oil should not be heated to avoid altering their taste and destroying their chemical content.
However, we must also keep in mind that we need to use walnut oil in moderation to prevent extra calories in our diet that could create potential health risks to us. As studies have reported also, walnut oil can cause a severe allergic reaction in people with nut allergies and cause significant weight gain, mainly due to its high caloric content.
Furthermore, it would be best to consult a health professional if you want to use walnut oil in your diet since it may cause medication reactions, particularly in some thyroid medications. Walnuts, in general, can prevent your body from absorbing these medications.
Where Can You Buy Quality Walnut Oil?
Walnut oil is available at grocery stores and online shops and can be used as a substitute for common cooking oils that we use in our kitchen. They can be used in various recipes, sauces, and salad dressings.
As emphasized by WebMD, it is most suitable for pan-frying and it would be best to avoid cooking it at high temperatures since it can lose some of its nutrients and could develop a bitter taste. Here are some online stores that sell quality walnut oil:
Amazon offers a wide variety of walnut oils that can be used as cooking oil, in baking and marinade, beauty products, as herbal extract, and as supplements. They are sold in different volumes and are contained in either bottles or canisters.
Corky’s Nuts is a blog and shop dedicated primarily to walnuts. While it also sells other products such as raw shelled pecans, mandarins, and avocados, you can also find several walnut recipes sold in their online shop, like raw shelled walnuts, walnut butter, walnut meal, and walnut oil.
You can also find walnut oil stored in bottles from the store, which is best used in cooking, salads, garnishing in pasta, dips for bread, or even add it to your cocktails, oatmeals, and vanilla ice cream.
This store also sells cold pressed walnut oil best used for salads, pasta, and cooking.
The last online store that we featured here is L Tourangelle. They also offer roasted walnut oil best used for sautéing, baking, finishing, and dressing. They also sell a special bundle pack that contains walnut oil, avocado oil, and sesame oil.
Walnut oils offer a vast array of health benefits. Though not used primarily as cooking oil, they can be used instead in salads and as a drizzle to some of our favorite foods. It is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 which could provide remarkable and promising anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective functions.
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