Smart Fuel: Walnut Oil

Here at Mark’s Daily Apple, we’re pretty picky about our oils. We prefer animal fats and fruit oils, but if you are looking for a nut oil walnut oil is a good option.

Of all the nut oils, walnut oil is clearly one of the healthiest. In the olden days, it was used to cure many ailments including stomach and skin problems, tuberculosis (although, admittedly, the jury is out on just how successful that might have been!), hair loss and diabetes.

Today, however, walnut oil is more revered as a healthy source of fat. Walnuts are high in alpha-linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that is converted to EPA and DHA (long-chain omega-3s) in the body. Furthermore, walnut oil is also a great source of omega-9, which helps maintain artery health, as well as omega-6 (you gotta have some of ’em), which is important for skin and hair growth as well as maintaining a healthy reproductive system.

So let’s take it to the lab and put walnut oil to the test! In a study conducted by University of California-Davis, researchers found that hamsters that ate walnut-infused feed had significantly lower levels of endothelin, a naturally occurring chemical that causes inflammation of arteries and plaque accumulation in vessels (both of which are linked to heart disease). In addition, consumption of walnuts was associated with a 64% increase in the elasticity of arteries and was found to prevent endothelial dysfunction (which has been linked with coronary artery disease and other cardiac ailments) in patients with high cholesterol.

Other pros for walnut oil (and walnuts in general) are that they are a great source of antioxidants, delivering more than 20 mmol antioxidants per 100 grams (making it one of the best sources of antioxidants among tree nut varieties). Specifically, walnuts are a great source of ellagic acid, which helps detoxify potential cancer-causing substances and helps limit the replication of cancer cells. To help these antioxidants along, walnuts are a very good source of manganese and copper, two minerals that act as catalysts in antioxidant reactions. Finally, walnuts are also a natural source of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland that is thought to play a role in regulating sleep.

Although slightly more expensive than other oils, walnut oil is a delicious and easy-to-use oil to use in food preparation. It has a light, delicate flavor and scent that makes it a good match for fine balsamic vinegars, red wine vinegars and tarragon white vinegar when used in salad dressings and can also be used to add flavor to grilled fish or meat dishes. When using it in cooking, chefs suggest that you avoid using it at high temperatures, as the heat can turn the oil bitter and destroy some of its antioxidant properties.

Like any healthy unsaturated fat, walnut oil is best when stored in a cool place and should be used up or tossed out within six weeks after first opening.

funadium Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

More Smart Fuel

Slashfood: Storing Nuts in the Freezer Extends Their Life

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23 thoughts on “Smart Fuel: Walnut Oil”

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  1. Yeah, but polyunsaturated oils are very delicate (that is, unstable) and prone to rancidity. Consuming rancid oils is not good. Wouldn’t it be better to consume the oils in the intact nuts? Then issues of rancidity and over consumption are less problematic.

  2. I’ll try the walnut oil, i love to use almond oil, especially on salad, can’t wait to give it a try.

  3. Walnut oil is good on salad. Better yet, throw some walnuts in your salad.

  4. Looks good! I just wonder if incorporating walnut oil would be good for now as I have discovered I am not a good “digestor” of nuts in general!! I assume nut oils shouldnt be problematic though.

    What are your thoughts on good quality, cold pressed avocado and macadamia nut oils?

  5. Make cashew butter with it.
    10 oz of Cashews (canned is fine, the fresher the better of course), blend in a food processor, add 1/3 cup or walnut oil and 2 tbsp melted honey (raw local honey if you have it) together slowly after the nuts are mixed well.

    Blend to a creamy consistency, and enjoy.

  6. Okay, but where do you buy it from? I am not finding it at the local grocers or the Natures organic whole foods store either?


    1. I know this sounds weird but you should check your local art supply store for Walnut Oil. Most oil painters use it for cleaning their brushes.

    2. I found Walnut oil at Superstore in their healthy foods section.

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  8. I take a tablespoon of roasted Walnut Oil daily. It tastes great to me. My skin has a nice subtle oily dew and is not dried out.

  9. Donna in Oregon, which is where I’m from. You can purchase it online from La Tourangelle. They have a wide variety of natural oils.

  10. I used walnut pieces as asource of walnut oil for 5 monthes now i found that it reduces the dry eye and reduses the hair falling , walnut is great

  11. “Walnuts are high in alpha-linoleic acid”

    I think you mean alpha-linolenic acid. See your link to increasing the elasticity of arteries.

  12. It just dawned on me that linolenic is pronounced LIHN OH LEHN IC, not LIN NEE OH LIC.