Walnuts are a whole food, and as such, can certainly be included as part of a Paleo diet. They are a nutrient-dense food that is also high in fat and protein, with a moderate amount of carbohydrates. They are extremely rich in manganese, as well as phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and iron. They also contain an impressive array of vitamins, particularly B vitamins.
Paleo and PUFAs
Caution is warranted when it comes to walnuts, although they aren’t too scary. Most of the fat they contain is polyunsaturated fat (PUFAs), especially omega-6. Omega-6 fats should be limited because they are inflammatory and very unstable when exposed to heat and light. They are more likely to oxidize, and consuming oxidized fats leads to oxidized cholesterol in our blood stream.
Paleo and Whole Foods
There’s more to the story than just PUFAs, though. Walnuts also contain antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which prevent the fats from oxidizing, and also provide a nice boost for our immune system.
Mark Sisson has an excellent post on why freaking out over the PUFA content of nuts is unwarranted.