As most expectant and experienced moms already know, it is important for women to be aware of the foods they consume during pregnancy. Providing nourishment for two means thinking about the benefits of certain foods that you eat and what nutrients the baby can get from them. In fact, this is the exact reason why I am so passionate about sharing any and all prenatal nutrition information here in my blog and in the Prenatal Nutrition Library app.
So, today, we’re going to talk about walnuts!
Walnuts are one of the best nuts that people can include in their pregnancy diet. These nuts are a staple in the healthy Mediterranean diet – and now we see why! They are often suggested by nutrition experts because they have a plethora of benefits for the mother and baby. And, if you haven’t conceived just yet, walnuts are also an excellent addition to promote sperm health and better men’s fertility.
A half-cup of shelled and chopped walnuts (50 grams) contains a whopping 7.5 grams of protein. And 3.5 grams of dietary fiber. Plus, plenty of copper, folate, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins E and B6, and manganese.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the specific benefits of walnuts during pregnancy, shall we??
7 Advantages Of Walnuts During Pregnancy
Helps to control high blood pressure & blood sugar
Some studies show that regular consumption of walnuts can help control high blood pressure and high blood sugar. This is due to several factors. Walnuts contain healthy fats, antioxidants. And several other plant compounds that contribute to better health. Plus, due to the fact that walnuts may help control high blood pressure and blood sugar, in congruence with a healthy diet, consuming walnuts can help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes. And potentially high blood pressure during pregnancy (more on this below!).
Aids in the development of the baby’s brain and eyes
Walnuts are rich in folate and the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), both of which contribute to the proper growth and development of the baby’s brain and eyes. Folate is a key nutrient required during pregnancy that helps prevent several well-known birth defects and complications. For this reason, walnuts are a great addition very early on in pregnancy and before!
Supports healthy weight gain
It is expected you gain weight during pregnancy as you grow a human. But it’s important to make sure that your weight gain takes place in a healthy way for your body. Walnuts are excellent for managing weight gain. And can help control those blood sugar spikes and falls. Walnuts are also an excellent snack for fighting those pesky sugar cravings. Thus helping you reduce your intake of excessive added sugar.
Helps increase immunity
When pregnant, your immune system is slightly suppressed, i.e. not working as well as before. Because of this, it’s important to support your immune system with healthy foods in order to prevent infections, viruses, and so on. Believe me when I say, being pregnant and sick is NOT FUN.
Almost every single vitamin, mineral, and plant compound found in walnuts directly contributes to a healthy immune system. These include copper, folate, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins E and B6, and manganese.
Improves cholesterol levels
Research shows that regular consumption of walnuts is directly linked to reduced bad cholesterol levels. Not only does this reduce the risk of heart disease in life, but it also reduces the risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy — a pregnancy complication that occurs in 2-8% of pregnancies and can potentially be life-threatening. Make sure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are in a normal range before becoming pregnant.
Improves cognitive functioning
Walnuts are known to greatly improve cognitive functioning from preconception all the way into adulthood. Benefits include improved memory, faster processing speed, and increased mental flexibility for both mother and baby. Additionally, the polyunsaturated fats, polyphenols, and vitamin E found in walnuts are thought to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain. Thus, leading to healthier brain functioning overall.
Promotes a healthy gut
And last, but certainly not least, consuming walnuts during pregnancy can promote healthy digestion and regularity. Studies show that regular consumption of walnuts can greatly enhance the healthy bacteria located in your gut and even nourish the gut. This is an excellent benefit throughout pregnancy where you may find yourself facing common symptoms such as upset stomach, nausea, and constipation.
And the best part is, that walnuts are super easy to incorporate into your pregnancy diet!
Not sure how to incorporate walnuts into your diet? We’ve got you covered!
Walnuts are easily accessible at all grocery stores, most local markets, and even online. Eat walnuts as a snack on their own, on your next salad, or in your favorite trail mix, yogurt, or oatmeal. Or, for your next sweet treat, melt some dark chocolate and make chocolate-covered walnuts. Really, the opportunities to include this ultra-healthy nut into your diet are endless!
For more prenatal nutrition recipes, and evidence-based nutrition guidance, head on over to the Prenatal Nutrition Library. You can actually download the Prenatal Nutrition Library app for free to access some super valuable free content like juicing during pregnancy, getting rid of headaches, and more. We also have more right here on the Prenatal Nutritionist Blog.