A common cause of chronic constipation is a lack of adequate dietary fiber. Consuming a healthy amount of daily dietary fiber -- 20 to 35 grams, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center -- can help you to achieve normal bowel habits. Fiber, most often obtained from the indigestible portions of plant foods, helps by forming bulk or roughage in the stool, making it easier to pass and ultimately a painless, regular occurrence. Sources of dietary fiber include legumes like beans and nuts, whole grains and produce, according to HuffPost Healthy Living. As tree nuts, walnuts may be a source that can help ease the discomfort of constipation.
Nutrition Profile of Walnuts
Among all of the foods that can help aid in constipation, walnuts maintain a spot as one of the healthiest sources. One-quarter cup of shelled nuts (about 50 halves) contains 164 calories, 16 grams of fat, 3.8 grams of protein and 1.7 gram of dietary fiber, among a number of other nutrients. Nuts generally are higher in fat and calories than many of the other food sources of fiber; however, the majority of the fats in nuts are the heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated types, so eaten in moderation, nuts are an effective method for aiding in constipation.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that men under 50 eat about 38 grams of fiber each day and women consume 25 grams. While walnuts do contain some fiber -- 1.7 grams per 1/4 cup, in addition to a host of other healthy nutrients -- their fiber content per serving isn't enough to relieve constipation. Plus, many nuts are high in fat and calories, so sticking to suggested serving sizes is a must. Fiber all-stars like lentils, with 15.6 grams of fiber per cooked cup, are a better bet for combating constipation; however, walnuts can be incorporated with other fiber-containing foods to create a healthy diet and gastrointestinal tract.
Walnuts and Food Allergies
While enjoying walnuts is fine for most people, those with tree nut allergies should avoid them. There's no doubt that people with obvious and sometimes severe symptoms -- such as skin rashes, hives, swelling and wheezing -- should avoid these nuts, but allergies can also be more generalized. Ironically, they may include chronic bowel problems, such as diarrhea or constipation. Because walnuts should be a dietary source helping your constipation, avoid them if you experience any gastrointestinal discomfort after eating.
Creating Fiber-Rich Meals
Due to their healthy nutrient profile, walnuts can improve symptoms of constipation. While you can certainly eat them by themselves, what's even better is to combine walnuts with other fiber-containing foods for a high-fiber meal. Try a serving of steel-cut oatmeal with blackberries and walnuts or even steamed and seasoned broccoli or brussels sprouts with crumbled walnuts on top.
- MedlinePlus: Constipation -- Self-care
- Mount Sinai Health Systems: Bowel Function and Dietary Fiber
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fiber
- HuffPost Healthy Living: 16 Great High-Fiber Foods
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nuts, Walnuts, English
- Greatist.com: The 16 Most Surprising High-Fiber Foods
- FoodAllergy.org: Tree Nut Allergies