Health Benefits of Black Walnuts

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on September 01, 2022
3 min read

Black walnut trees (Juglans Negra) aren’t grown in orchards like most nuts. Instead, they grow wild across North America. These wild nuts have a rich, bold flavor and contain the highest level of protein of any tree nut. They also pack plenty of vitamin A, iron, minerals, and fiber.

Black walnuts have higher levels of antioxidants, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and other health-promoting compounds than the more common English walnuts, making them useful in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

These nutritious treats add an earthy flavor and buttery crunch to desserts, salads, pasta sauces, and other dishes. 

Black walnut health benefits affect almost every system in the body. Walnuts in general — and black walnuts in particular — have a variety of positive impacts on health.

Cardiovascular Health

Several studies have found that walnuts have a positive impact on “vascular reactivity,” meaning they help blood vessels respond to changes in the body in a healthy way. Walnuts help decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood and reduce the risk of excessive clotting and inflammation.

Disease Prevention

Tree nuts, including black walnuts, are associated with lower rates of heart disease and reduced risk of gallstones. Women who eat more nuts are less likely to develop diabetes. There is also evidence that eating nuts might lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, and prevent inflammation.

Reduce Cholesterol

Nut intake has consistently been associated with lower cholesterol in controlled studies.

Obesity Prevention

Although nuts are high in calories, long-term studies have shown that people who eat nuts in moderation have lower rates of weight gain and obesity. Scientists think the reason for this is that nuts are high in fiber and help satisfy hunger.

Better Gut Bacteria

One study found that subjects who ate 43 grams of walnuts per day over eight weeks had more probiotics and other good gut bacteria than those who didn’t.

A healthy balance of gut bacteria is associated with reduced rates of both depression and colon cancer.

Lower Blood Sugar

Walnuts are especially rich in plant antioxidants called polyphenols, which help to lower blood sugar. Dark chocolate, green tea, coffee, and extra virgin olive oil also have this effect.

Black walnuts are packed with antioxidants, and they’re generally more nutritious than their more common walnut brethren.

Nutrients per Serving

Black walnut nutrition per 1/4 cup serving: 

Black walnuts also contain:

Things to Watch Out For

If you have a nut allergy, you should avoid black walnuts. The tannins in black walnuts could interfere with anticoagulants or medication for stomach disorders.

Compared to English walnuts, black walnuts have an intense and complex flavor. People describe them as bold, fruity, and earthy, with a creamy, buttery texture.

You can use black walnuts in any recipe that calls for regular walnuts. Expect a more vibrant and tangy flavor. 

  • Eat with yogurt and honey
  • Add to banana bread
  • Blend into a pesto with basil and garlic to eat on pasta
  • Top potato gnocchi with spinach, shaved parmesan, and black walnuts
  • Sprinkle on carrot cake
  • Use instead of English walnuts in a traditional walnut cake
  • Bake into baklava
  • Add to your salad for a nutty crunch
  • Add to breakfast cereal or oatmeal
  • Roast with rolled oats and honey to make homemade granola