Benefits & Risks of Eating Walnuts in Pregnancy

Eating Walnuts in Pregnancy

When a woman comes to know that she is pregnant, her diet takes a 180-degree turn. If you are pregnant, you must have also considered making changes in your diet, didn’t you? You must have asked your doctor about the necessary changes you should make in your diet. Your gynaecologist must have recommended that you eat only healthy foods. She may have also suggested that you start eating dry fruits and nuts. In this article, we will talk about walnuts. Many expecting women are not aware of the nutritional benefits of walnuts for their and their baby’s health. 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 to consume during pregnancy. The kernel of a walnut resembles a brain. Walnuts not only just resemble the 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.

Health Benefits of Eating Walnuts in 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.

  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, which can keep your weight in check.

  13. The Vitamin E in walnuts can help protect the cells and helps maintain the structure of the membranes of cells. It also plays a role in the development of the lungs of the baby and may reduce the risk of asthma and other respiratory problems.

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

  15. 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

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. You can include walnuts in your diet in the following ways.

  • You can mix 3-4 finely chopped walnuts in 1 tablespoon of honey and eat them with a glass of water. It can provide you 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).

  • To make a snack with walnuts, cut a banana, dip it in honey, and add chopped walnuts. This snack will keep you full for long and help manage your cravings.

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 is detrimental, and this is 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 might arise if you consume walnuts in excess during pregnancy.

  • Consuming walnuts in excess amounts can lead to diarrhoea during pregnancy.

  • It 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.

  • An increase in the chances of bleeding during delivery.

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 the risk of your baby developing an allergy to nuts. Babies born to women who refrain from eating nuts during pregnancy can develop a nut allergy too. So, whether your baby will develop nut allergy or not will not depend on your pregnancy diet.

Now that you are aware of the immense health benefits of walnuts, don’t hesitate to eat them. 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!