- Is it safe to eat walnuts (akhrot) during pregnancy?
- What are the benefits of eating walnuts during pregnancy?
- Nutritional value of walnuts
- How many walnuts can you eat per day during pregnancy?
- What are the possible side effects of eating walnuts in pregnancy?
- What precautions should you take when eating walnuts?
- How to include walnuts in your pregnancy diet?
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.
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 protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which are essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby development.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Walnuts During Pregnancy?
Eating walnuts during pregnancy is beneficial as they are:
1. Abundant in Omega-3s
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that are good for both mother and fetus. Fatty acids stimulate the activity of the brain cells, and also help in vision development of the fetus (3).
2. Good for the 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 could improve immunity and increase protection from infections (5).
4. High in folate
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. Helps induce 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. Protective against 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. Helps control excess weight gain
Rich in protein and fiber, walnuts satiate your hunger needs quickly. They will keep you full for a longer period and may also help prevent significant weight gain (9).
8. Source of copper:
Next, we will learn about the nutritional value of this nut.
What Is The Nutritional Value In Walnuts?
Nutrients present in 100 grams of walnuts are as follows (12):
|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|
|Total saturated fatty acids||6.126g|
|Total monounsaturated fatty acids||8.933g|
|Total polyunsaturated fatty acids||47.174g|
g=grams; mg=milligrams; IU=International Units
The nutritional quotient and the health benefits offered make walnuts a must-include food in your pregnancy diet.
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 cup or 10 whole walnuts (13). Consuming more than this every day can result in weight gain and digestive issues.
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 may trigger the immune system causing allergic symptoms (14).
- Walnuts may also interfere with iron absorption leading to anemia in the long run (15).
- Because they are high in calories, overeating walnuts may cause excessive weight gain.
Always take precautions while including walnuts in your diet when you are pregnant.
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.
How To Include Walnuts In Your Pregnancy Diet?
You might try these different ways of incorporating walnuts into your diet.
- Include whole or finely chopped nuts in salads or as toppings.
- Add them to baked goods, vegetable and fruit salads or meat and fish dishes 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 may help you manage sweet cravings.
Walnuts are healthy and should be included, albeit cautiously, in your pregnancy diet. Eat them in moderation 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.
Infographic: Precautions To Take While Eating Walnuts During Pregnancy
Walnuts are an excellent source of nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the mother’s health and the fetus’ development. However, since walnuts are potentially allergenic food, scour through the infographic below to know the precautions to take when eating walnuts during pregnancy.
Do you know of any recipes with walnuts in them? Share with us in the comment section below.
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)