Benefits & Risks of Eating Walnuts in Pregnancy

One of the first things a mother-to-be does to ensure her baby’s health is to make changes to her diet by turning to healthy and nutritious food. Dry fruits, especially walnuts, rank high on this list. However, many expecting mothers might not be aware of the nutritional benefits of this nut for their and their baby’s health. So, let’s look at the benefits of walnuts during pregnancy.

Is it Safe to Eat Walnuts in Pregnancy?

Walnut (akhrot in Hindi) is a “super food” because of various reasons and completely safe to consume during pregnancy. The kernel of the fruit resembles a brain and has two halves separated by a partition. The most interesting thing about walnuts is that not only do they resemble the brain but they are also considered beneficial for the proper functioning of the brain. Apart from this, there are a number of other potent benefits of consuming walnuts when expecting.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Walnuts/ Akhrot During Pregnancy?

It is believed that if mothers-to-be eat nuts during pregnancy, their children are less likely to develop nut allergies. The delicious and crunchy walnuts also contain a lot of nutrients that are beneficial for a pregnant woman. Akhrot benefits during pregnancy are mentioned below:

  • Walnuts are a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are necessary for the baby’s brain activity.
  • 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 due to its unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Walnuts have a significant amount 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 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. These nuts are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and proteins which are beneficial for the development of the eyes and the brain of your unborn baby
  2. Walnut contains plant sterols which help in controlling blood cholesterol level and increase the good cholesterol (HDL) levels in your body
  3. Eating walnuts in moderate quantities can 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 help you control high blood pressure as well
  6. It is a storehouse of proteins and fibre which is vital for expecting mothers
  7. The antioxidants present in walnuts help in strengthening the immunity of expecting mothers. It is recommended to 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 helps 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
  11. The superfood also regulates melatonin levels. Melatonin induces sleep, and this is especially important in the third trimester when sleep becomes a concern
  12. Since they are high in protein and fibre, walnuts make you feel full for longer and prevent binge eating. This guards against excessive pregnancy weight-gain too
  13. Vitamin E in walnuts protects 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 foetus and may reduce risk of asthma and other respiratory problems
  14. Walnuts contain copper which is required for the creation of red blood cells, helps repair tissues, and breaks down sugars
  15. Manganese is a crucial nutrient to develop the baby’s bones and cartilage. Half of the daily required amount of manganese can be provided by one serving of walnut

How To Consume 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 vegetable and fruit salads. Women also consume walnuts as a remedy for health problems because medicines are not advisable during pregnancy. You can include walnuts in your diet in the following ways to get relief from different side effects of pregnancy.

  • You can mix three-four finely chopped walnuts with one tablespoon of honey and take it with a glass of water. It will give you relief from headache, insomnia or stress
  • Mix chopped walnuts with grated lemon skin and two tablespoons of honey. One tablespoon of this mixture before meals is very beneficial for those with symptoms of anaemia and avitaminosis (long-term vitamin deficiency)
  • A perfect walnut snack is to cut a banana, dip it in honey, and add chopped walnuts. This snack will keep you full for a long time and help manage cravings

What Are The Risks Of Eating Walnuts During Pregnancy?

An excess of anything is detrimental, and this is true of walnuts too. Can you eat walnuts while pregnant? You definitely can, but in moderation. It is not recommended to consume more than 30g of walnuts in a day during pregnancy. This is because walnuts for pregnant women can cause problems when eaten in excess. It can trigger complications for the mother as well as the unborn child.

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

  • Too many walnuts may cause diarrhoea in pregnancy.
  • Some studies have found that eating too many walnuts may interfere with absorption of iron and can cause 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 walnut during pregnancy it can cause skin rashes, swelling of lips, itching, dizziness and wheezing.
  • The chances of bleeding increases during delivery as walnuts prevent clotting of blood.

Walnut Allergies In Pregnancy

It is a common myth that eating nuts when pregnant is unsafe as the child can develop nut-allergy in the future. However, this is just a misconception, and studies have revealed that even women who refrained from eating nuts during pregnancy had babies with nut allergies. In fact, the number of babies with nut allergy was lower among women who consumed nuts during pregnancy.

Conclusion

During pregnancy, give in to your love of walnuts and munch on them without worrying about side effects. All you need to do is ensure you watch how many you are eating. When you are shopping for walnuts, make sure you choose ones that are oblong and have a thin shell. Always avoid consuming kernels which have dark spots and a rancid taste. Benefit from the many qualities of this superfood, and have a healthy pregnancy!