Heart-healthy walnuts make for a nutritious snack or salad topping. But if you haven’t heard of black walnut oil, you might want to stock it in your natural medicine cabinet. The benefits are impressive.
Make some space in the medicine chest for some walnut oil. But it’s not the regular kin.
In this post, we’ll discuss black walnut oil benefits and what it’s used for. Also, if you’re a DIY person, we’ll even throw in an easy recipe for how to make your own oil. That is, if you’re sold on what it can do for you.
Black Walnut Oil: is it different from regular walnut oil?
But first, many people are curious about the difference between regular walnuts and black walnuts.
You can think of regular walnuts (commonly called “English” walnut) and black walnuts (or “Eastern black walnut”) as first cousins. They are a different species of the genus, Juglandaceae.
Lee Zalben aka “The Peanut Butter Guy”, founder of Peanut Butter & Co., explains the major difference here: “Black walnuts … have a bolder, earthier flavor. Their shells are thick, tough to crack, and will likely stain your hands.”
Indeed, in North America, where black walnut trees grow, many homeowners consider black walnut trees a nuisance. If only they were aware of the benefits of the oil trapped inside the dense hull.
The reason why black walnut trees are a bane to homeowners is this….
The dense, green nuts from black walnuts trees litter driveways and lawns. And if they are not removed, they easily stain. Not to mention, once the nuts open and dissolve, they can become a slipping hazard.
Is it worth eating them as a snack if you’re going to need to take a shower after eating them? And what’s the big deal about black walnut oil contained in these pesky nuts?
Black Walnut Traditional Uses
Traditional societies think it’s worth the hassle of getting stained. In fact, Native American tribes have been using black walnuts for generations. And not just for food. But for a wide variety of medicinal and everyday uses.
The website of the American Indian Health and Diet Project says the juice made from green walnut husks (the covering of the the black walnut seed is green) was used to clean maggots out of wounds. It was also used to rid dogs of intestinal worms.
Another example of traditional black walnut uses comes from the White Mountain Apache tribe. They used it to protect their horses and livestock from parasites.
Additionally, Native tribes used black walnut tree bark as a tonic for treating aches and pains.
Native Americans even used black walnuts in their beauty regimen. In fact, some senior tribal members used the it to dye their hair. They did this by making a dark brown dye from the husks.
(Click here for more all-natural ideas for hair care.)
But let’s go back to the differences between regular English walnuts and black walnuts for a second. Another difference between the two is they don’t have the same exact nutritional profile.
In fact, the nutrition in black walnut oil makes it arguable more medicinally beneficial than common walnut oil.
Black Walnut Oil Nutrition
The most celebrated nutrient in any walnut species is essential omega-3 fatty acids. If you need a reminder, omega-3’s are essential because we must obtain them from food; our bodies do not produce them naturally.
The health benefits of omega-3s are too numerous to mention. Over 10 percent of black walnut oil is ALA.
ALA stands for alpha-linoleic acid, which is the plant version of omega-3. Some ALA converts into two other more potent sources of omega-3: EPA and DHA.
This study (and thousands of others) conclude EPA and DHA is critical for proper fetal development. This includes brain function, eye function and immune function. Moreover, omega-3’s fight inflammation of the heart.
They also protect the arteries against inflammation. Other benefits of omega-3’s include weight management and boosting brain function in those with very mild Alzheimer’s disease.
Besides omega-3’s, black walnut contains healthy omega-6 fatty acids.
Other beneficial active ingredients in black walnut oil include antioxidants and the trace mineral, iodine.
Those who have thyroid disorders, and thus have trouble with iodine uptake in the thyroid, may benefit from consuming the oil. (For more information on promoting a healthy thyroid, read this.)
Black walnut is also rich in vitamin K. If you don’t get enough K in your diet, you may develop severe bleeding.
What is black walnut oil used for?
Research studies specifically on black walnut oil (Juglans nigra) are difficult to find. This study suggests it may help act as a chelating agent.
Chelating agents are those that bind to certain things like heavy metals. Specifically, the aforementioned study finds that the husk of black walnut can remove lead from water.
All subspeices of walnut oil possess a wide variety of therapeutic uses. Black walnut isn’t radically different from English walnut in this regard.
And here’s another great benefit of walnuts in general: eating them can be good for your gut. Not just for weight loss, but also for developing good bacteria within your gut.
In addition, walnut oil helps those with type 2 diabetes. It does this by improving a wide variety of metabolic markers. These markers include the lowering of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Walnut oil also increases HDL (the so-called good cholesterol) levels in type 2 diabetes patients. Another study shows it also benefits type 2 diabetes patients by lowering blood sugar.
And this study may offer walnut oil’s greatest benefit: preventing premature death. The researchers conclude that for the over 7000 study participants, those who frequently consumed walnuts (and olive oil) died less often from all causes than those who do not.
Walnut oil is also beneficial for treating acne, according to this research study. That’s because of its ability to kill two strains of bacteria that cause acne flare-ups.
Moreover, people use it for non therapeutic purposes, such as removing paint thinner and polishing wood.
Benefits of black walnut oil
If you have a bad cut, dab some black walnut oil on it. It may help prevent an infection. As it says above, this is a centuries-old remedy. And it may help with a wide variety of skin conditions, such as ringworm, eczema and dermatitis, etc. It may even help regrow hair.
How to make black walnut oil
The green-colored hull, which is the covering of the actual nut, is the medicinal part of the whole black walnut.
Leaf.TV suggests collecting or buying several pounds of dry walnuts in the shell. Then, use a nutcracker to crack open the walnuts. Take the meat out of the shells and place them in a clean bucket or large bowl, the website suggests.
Next, take a bucket or large bowl. Place it under a meat grinder. Doing this will collect the ground walnuts. Once you grind the nuts, pour a small amount of walnuts into the meat grinder.
You should grind it until it becomes a fine powder. Once the walnuts are ground up, you’ll want to pour the ground walnut “meat” into a cooking pot. LeafTV then suggests adding enough water to barely cover the top of the walnuts.
At this point, you’ll want to heat the walnut meat for 45 minutes. (But the website neglects to indicate at what temperature.) Make sure to stir the mixture constantly, suggests LeafTV.
The cooked walnut meat should then be placed in an oil press to squeeze out the oil. Obviously, you’ll need to place a container under the oil press to collect the oil. Continue pressing all of the nuts.
Expect to render about two quarts of black walnut oil per eight pounds of green hulls. You can also use a cheesecloth to filter the oil. For best results, store the oil in stainless steel containers or dark glass jars. Refrigerate any unused portion.
Keep in mind there are many other traditional uses of black walnut oil. However, many of them lack the backing of modern research.