Eating Walnuts in Pregnancy: Benefits & Side Effects

Eating Walnuts in Pregnancy: Benefits & Side Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

When a woman comes to know that she is pregnant, she is very careful about her diet (as she should be). If you are pregnant, you must have also considered making changes in your diet after consulting with your doctor. Your gynaecologist must have recommended that you eat only healthy foods. She may have also suggested that you start eating dry fruits and nuts such as almonds, apricots, and walnuts. In this article, we will talk about walnuts. Many expecting women are not aware of the nutritional benefits of walnuts. So, let’s look at the benefits of walnuts during pregnancy.

Is It Safe to Eat Walnuts During Pregnancy?

Walnuts, known as akhrot in Hindi, are extremely healthy and completely safe for consumption during pregnancy. The kernel of a walnut resembles a brain and they not only just resemble brain but also help in the proper functioning of the brain. Apart from this, there are a number of other potential benefits of consuming walnuts while pregnant.

Nutritional Benefits of Consuming Walnuts During Pregnancy

It is believed that the mothers-to-be who eat nuts during pregnancy are less likely to have kids with nut allergies. The delicious and crunchy walnuts also contain a lot of nutrients that are beneficial for a pregnant woman. The benefits of eating akhrot during pregnancy are mentioned below.

  • Walnuts are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for the development of brain activity in a baby. Eating walnuts during pregnancy can also boost the development of a baby’s brain.
  • Walnuts contain Vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol. The gamma-tocopherol form is considered to be a very effective form of Vitamin E because of its unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It even helps get rid of harmful free radicals.
  • Walnuts are a rich source of vitamins, fibre, magnesium, copper, and manganese. They are also loaded with calcium, iron, zinc, and selenium. These nutrients add to the numerous advantages of walnuts.
  • It is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid – an essential fatty acid required for the baby’s development.

Let’s also take a look at nutrients present in walnuts:

Nutrients Value per 100 grams
  Total Fat   65g 
  Cholesterol   0mg 
  Sodium   2mg 
  Total Carbohydrates   14g 
  Sugars   2.6g
  Protein   15g 
  Calcium   98mg 
  Iron   2.9mg 
  Potassium   441mg

Health Benefits of Eating Walnuts During Pregnancy

Now that you are aware of the nutritional value of walnuts, let us understand more about how eating them can help you during pregnancy with the help of the below-mentioned walnut benefits in pregnancy.

  1. Walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and proteins which can help in the development of the eyes and brain of your unborn baby.

  2. Walnuts contain plant sterols which can help in controlling blood cholesterol levels and increase the good cholesterol (HDL) levels in your body.

  3. Eating walnuts in moderate quantities can also help in maintaining the optimal lipid profile during pregnancy.

  4. Walnut oil is found to be beneficial in preserving the function of endothelial cells, which line the blood vessels throughout the body. These cells play an important part in blood vessel flexibility. Hence, inflammation of blood vessels can be controlled with regular consumption of walnuts.

  5. Since walnuts relax the blood vessels, they can even help control high blood pressure.

  6. Walnuts are a good source of proteins and fibre, both of which are vital for an expecting woman.

  7. The antioxidants present in walnuts can help strengthen the immune system of an expecting woman. It is recommended that you eat walnuts along with the brown skin. This is because 90 per cent of the antioxidants found in walnuts is concentrated in its skin.

  8. The copper content in walnuts can help in the proper growth and development of the foetus.

  9. They also contain polyphenols and copper which can prevent damage from free radicals and cancer.

  10. Post-delivery, it is recommended that mothers consume walnuts to keep postpartum depression away. Their alpha-linolenic acid content is good for battling postpartum depression, manic-depressive psychosis, and even dementia. So, you can continue eating walnuts post-delivery.

  11. Walnuts also help regulate melatonin levels. Melatonin induces sleep and eating walnuts, especially during the third trimester, can be very beneficial as sleep becomes a major concern at that time.

  12. Walnuts can make you feel full for longer and prevent you from binge eating, thus keeping your weight in check.

  13. Walnuts contain copper which is required for the formation of red blood cells. It also helps repair tissues and breakdown sugars.

  14. Manganese is a crucial nutrient required for the development of baby’s bones and cartilage. Half of the daily required amount of manganese can be provided by one serving of walnut.

How to Include Walnuts in Your Pregnancy Diet?

Consuming walnut is good for pregnancy. There are many ways in which you can eat walnuts. They can be eaten separately or in finely chopped form. They can also be added to various dishes including baked goods, meat and fish, and vegetables and fruit salads. Women also consume walnuts as a remedy for several health problems as medicines may not be advisable during pregnancy. Here are some ways in which you can include this dry fruit in your diet:

  • You can mix 3-4 finely chopped walnuts in 1 tablespoon of honey and eat them with a glass of water. It can provide relief from a headache, insomnia, or stress.
  • Mix chopped walnuts with grated lemon skin and 2 tablespoons of honey in a bowl. Consuming 1 tablespoon of this mixture before meals would prove beneficial if you suffer from the symptoms of anaemia and avitaminosis (long-term vitamin deficiency).
  • You can include walnuts in your diet as a mid-meal snack. To get maximum benefits from them, eat soaked walnuts.
  • Add whole or finely chopped walnuts in salads or as toppings.

Precautions to Be Taken While Consuming Walnuts During Pregnancy

There are possible side effects of walnuts during pregnancy. Therefore, you must take necessary precautions before consuming the nuts. Here are some precautions to be taken while consuming walnuts during pregnancy:

  • Go for natural nuts, and avoid variants such as sugar-coated, salt-coated or candied walnuts.
  • If the nuts have dark spots and a rancid taste, avoid eating them.
  • Store the walnuts in an airtight container or refrigerator them to keep them fresh.
  • Consult with your doctor before including akhrot in pregnancy diet.

What Are the Risks of Eating Walnuts During Pregnancy?

While walnuts can be consumed during pregnancy, you should not eat them excessively. An excess of anything can prove detrimental for your health, and that stands true for walnuts too. You can eat walnuts during pregnancy as long as you eat them in moderation. It is not recommended to consume more than 30g of walnuts in a day while pregnant. This is because consuming too many walnuts can trigger complications for the mother as well as the unborn baby.

Here are some of the possible complications that may arise if you consume walnuts in excess during pregnancy.

  • Consuming walnuts in excess amounts can lead to diarrhoea during pregnancy.
  • Eating walnuts may interfere with the absorption of iron and lead to anaemia in the long run.
  • A mild allergy to walnuts may get aggravated during pregnancy. If you are highly allergic to nuts and end up consuming even a small amount of walnuts during pregnancy, it can cause skin rashes, swelling of lips, itching, dizziness and wheezing.
  • Eating walnuts in excess may increase the chances of bleeding during delivery.
  • Overeating walnuts can cause excessive weight gain, as they are high in calories.

Walnut Allergy in Pregnancy

If you have a nut allergy, especially walnut allergy, you should refrain from consuming walnuts during pregnancy and even after delivery. But if you are not allergic to walnuts, you can eat them in moderate amounts. Many women believe that eating nuts during pregnancy is unsafe and that the baby can develop a nut allergy in future. However, this is just a misconception. Consuming nuts during pregnancy will not increase your baby’s risk of developing an allergy to nuts. Babies born to women who refrain from eating nuts during pregnancy can develop a nut allergy too. So, you can eat walnuts during pregnancy, just remember to eat them in moderation.

Now that you are aware of the immense health benefits of walnuts, don’t think twice before making them a part of your pregnancy diet. You can eat 2-3 walnuts daily during pregnancy without worrying about their side effects. As long as you eat them in moderate amounts, you won’t have any problem. However, while buying walnuts, make sure you choose the ones that are oblong and have a thin shell. Avoid consuming kernels which have dark spots on them and have a rancid taste. Have a healthy pregnancy!


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Also Read:

Eating Cashew Nuts in Pregnancy
Consuming Peanuts during Pregnancy
Pista (Pistachios) when Pregnant

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