Walnuts have long been praised for their health benefits, as the nut is known to be rich in protein and several dietary minerals.
Now, researchers from Indiana University Bloomington have found that adding just a small handful of walnuts to meals can bring "many nutritional benefits for all life stages".
"While nut consumption is already promoted in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as part of a healthy dietary pattern, consumers are often not eating enough alongside whole grains, fruit and vegetables," said lead researcher Dr Krisha Thiagarajah. "Under-consumption of nutritious foods like walnuts as part of a balanced diet can result in nutrient inadequacies. When added in the diet, walnuts lead to small nutrition wins for the whole family."
For the study, the team used advanced statistical modelling techniques to see what would happen when one ounce of walnuts was added to the typical daily diet of nearly 8,000 people who do not currently eat nuts.
Accordingly, they reported that adding one handful of walnuts to dishes nuts "improves diet quality and intake of some under-consumed nutrients" of public health importance, including potassium, dietary fibre, and magnesium.
In addition, Dr Krisha and her colleagues noted that incorporating walnuts into snacks and meals may be an easy option for adults and children to consider as part of their diet.
Full study results have been published in Nutrients.