Walnuts During Pregnancy: Benefits And Side Effects

walnut during pregnancy

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Research states that “Maternal consumption of tree nuts, including walnuts, is associated with reduced nut allergies in offspring (1).” Walnuts are also nutritious and are rich in vitamins, minerals, essential oils, protein, and fiber. But when you are pregnant, you must be cautious of why, when, and how to eat walnuts.

Read this MomJunction to know more about consuming walnuts during pregnancy.

Is It Safe To Eat Walnuts (Akhrot) During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to consume walnuts during pregnancy, considering that they are super rich in omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to the functioning of the brain and neurological health (2). They are also an important source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which are essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby development.

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What Are The Benefits Of Eating Walnuts During Pregnancy?

Eating walnuts during pregnancy is beneficial as they are:

1. Abundant in Omega-3’s:

Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that are good for both the mother and the fetus. The fatty acids stimulate the activity of the brain cells, and also help in vision development of the fetus (3).

2. Good for heart:

Walnuts are rich in arginine, an amino acid that helps relax constricted blood vessels and stimulates blood flow. It, therefore, lowers the risk of high blood pressure and also manages cholesterol levels in the body (4).

3. Rich in antioxidants:

The powerful antioxidants such as quinone, juglone, tannins, tellimagrandin, copper, and vitamin E present in walnuts protect the mother-to-be and the fetus from free radical damage. Eating walnuts will, therefore, improve immunity and protect from infections (5).

4. Folate prevents birth defects:

Walnuts are the best sources of folic acid that aids in the development of the brain and neurological system of the baby. It also lowers the risk of neural tube defects and congenital malformations in the baby (6).

5. Melatonin induces sleep:

Melatonin is essential in your third trimester when sleep becomes a major concern. Walnuts help stimulate this hormone in your blood, therefore, inducing proper sleep and rest (7).

6. Prevents depression:

It is natural to feel emotional and get depressed at times when you are pregnant. Walnut and walnut oil are valuable sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid that helps improve physical and emotional wellness of the mother-to-be (8).

7. Controls weight gain:

Rich in protein and fiber, walnuts satiate your hunger needs quickly. They will keep you full for a longer time and also help prevent significant weight gain (9).

8. Source of copper:

Walnuts are a rich source of copper that helps in the production of red blood cells, repair of tissues, and fetal growth and development (10) (11).

Next, we will learn about the nutritional value of this nut.

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What Is The Nutritional Value In Walnuts?

Nutrients present in 100 grams of walnuts are as follows (12):

NUTRIENTAMOUNT
Calories654kcal
Water4.07g
Carbohydrates13.71g
Sugars2.61g
Protein15.23g
Fiber6.7g
Fat65.21g
Vitamins
Thiamin (Vitamin B1)0.341mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)0.150mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3)1.125mg
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)0.537mg
Folic acid (Vitamin B9)98mcg
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)1.3mg
Retinol (Vitamin A)20IU
Alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E)0.70mg
Phylloquinone (Vitamin K)2.7mcg
Electrolytes
Potassium441mg
Sodium2mg
Minerals
Calcium98mg
Iron2.91mg
Phosphorus346mg
Magnesium158mg
Zinc3.09mg
Lipids
Total saturated fatty acids6.126g
Total monounsaturated fatty acids8.933g
Total polyunsaturated fatty acids47.174g

g=grams; mg=milligrams; IU=International Units

The nutritional quotient and the health benefits they offer make walnuts a must-include food in your pregnancy item.

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How Many Walnuts Can You Eat Per Day During Pregnancy?

You can have up to 30 grams of walnuts daily. That is equal to one-third of a cup or 10 whole walnuts (13). Consuming more than this every day can result in weight gain and digestive issues.

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What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Eating Walnuts During Pregnancy?

Potential risks of overeating walnuts are as follows.

  • It could lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea and bloating.
  • If you are allergic to certain foods, be cautious before including walnuts as they trigger the immune system causing allergic symptoms (14).
  • Walnuts may also interfere with iron absorption leading to anemia in the long run (15).
  • Overeating walnuts could cause weight gain as they increase cholesterol levels in the body.

Always take precautions while including walnuts in your diet when you are pregnant.

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What Precautions Should You Take While Eating Walnuts?

  • Consult your doctor before you plan to include them in your diet.
  • Prefer natural nuts. Avoid variants such as sugar coated, salt coated or candied walnuts.
  • Consider buying standard and reliable brands of walnuts.
  • If the kernels have dark spots and a rancid taste, avoid eating them.
  • Store them in an airtight container or refrigerator to keep them fresh.

Walnuts can replace unhealthy snacks that you tend to consume between meals. You can also add them to the diet in other ways, which we discuss next.

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How To Include Walnuts In Your Pregnancy Diet?

You might try different ways of incorporating walnuts into your diet.

  • Include whole nuts or finely chopped ones in salads or as toppings.
  • Add them to baked goods, vegetable and fruit salads or meat and fish for a rich and crunchy taste.
  • Finely chop three to four walnuts and mix in a glass of water with two tablespoons of honey. It helps relieve insomnia, stress, and headache.
  • Slice a banana, dip it in honey and top with chopped walnuts. This snack will keep you full and manages sweet cravings.

Walnuts are healthy and should be included, albeit cautiously, in your pregnancy diet. Eat them in moderation and for variety, but most importantly for health. If you are in doubt about consuming them, or think you may be allergic to them talk to your doctor first.

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Do you know of any recipes with walnuts in them? Share with us in the comment section below.

References:

1. Erin Digitale; Eating nuts during pregnancy may protect baby from nut allergies; Stanford Medicine (2013)
2. Eating for Two: the Top 5 Nutrients for Pregnant Women; Bastyr University (2018)
3. L. Bellows et al.; Omega-3 Fatty Acids – 9.382; Colorado State University Extension (2018)
4. Nuts for the Heart; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2018)
5. Elena Catanzaro et al.; Natural Products to Fight Cancer: A Focus on Juglans regia; Toxins (Basel) (2018)
6. Katarzyna Wiśniewska & Jacek Wysocki; The importance of folic acid in the primary prevention of congenital malformations; Archives Of Perinatal Medicine
7. Will Sansom; Walnuts contain melatonin, research shows; UT Health San Antonio (2006)
8. Don’t Be Depressed About Depression; Penn State College of Education (2014)
9. How to eat nuts the healthy way; Harvard Health Publishing (2012)
10. Carmen Cabrera et al.; Mineral content in legumes and nuts: contribution to the Spanish dietary intake; The Science of the Total Environment (2003)
11. Health Encyclopedia – Copper; URMC
12. Basic Report; Walnuts; USDA
13. Nuts and seeds; Better Health Channel, State of Victoria (2016)
14. Christine Bruhn et al.; Nuts: Safe Methods For Consumers To Handle, Store and Enjoy; University Of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (2010)
15. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ); Iron Disorders Institute (2009)

 

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Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for Momjunction.com. She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at: linkedin.com/in/kothapalli-rebecca-35881628
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