Walnut Oil Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Walnut Oil

Walnut oil is a flavorful oil made by pressing whole walnuts. Walnut oil comes in both unrefined and refined varieties which are used for a variety of culinary purposes. Similar to walnuts, walnut oil contains a combination of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats, but contains primarily polyunsaturated fats. Walnut oil is an excellent source of plant-based ALA omega-3 fatty acids, providing nearly 100 percent of the daily recommended intake in 1 tablespoon.

Cold-pressed unrefined walnut oil, especially when toasted, has a distinct nutty flavor ideal for making vinaigrettes or finishing dishes whereas refined walnut oil can be used in cooking and is more stable when heated.

Walnut Oil Nutrition Facts

Below is the detailed nutrition information for 1 tablespoon of walnut oil (13.6g) as provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 14g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: 1.4g

Carbs

Walnut oil does not contain any carbohydrates and therefore zero sugar and zero fiber.

Fats

Walnut oil is primarily made up of healthy polyunsaturated fats, with approximately 63% of fat coming from polyunsaturated fats, 23% from monounsaturated fat and less than 10% from saturated fat.

Walnut oil is an excellent food source of plant-based ALA omega-3 fatty acids which your body converts into EPA and DHA in limited amounts; 1 tablespoon of walnut oil provides 1.4g of ALA, which is nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily intake for adults ages 19 to 50. For reference, the Adequate Intake (AI) for ALA for adult men is 1.6g per day and for adult women is 1.1g per day. Walnut oil contains more omega-3 fatty acids per serving than canola oil, which is frequently cited as another excellent source.

Protein

Walnut oil is pure fat extracted from the walnuts so it does not contain any protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Walnut oil contains a small amount of Vitamin K, providing 3% of an adult's daily needs in a 1 tablespoon serving. There is also a very small amount of Vitamin E and choline in walnut oil but this amounts to less than 1% of daily needs per serving.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of walnut oil are associated with its fat composition.

Supports Heart Health

The polyunsaturated fats and high concentration of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids make walnut oil particularly beneficial for heart health. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering triglycerides, increasing good HDL. Studies also indicate that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats can reduce bad LDL cholesterol, further reducing cardiovascular risk. The ALA and natural polyphenols in walnut oil may also help lower blood pressure.

Supports Glycemic Control

One study suggested that regular consumption of cold-pressed walnut oil (a little over 1 tablespoon daily) may help reduce blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes, especially when replacing saturated fats. This may be due to a variety of mechanisms including its high concentration of antioxidants from the polyphenols in the oil as well as the anti-inflammatory benefits of the polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats have also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity.

Reduces Inflammation

The high amount of polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids along with polyphenols may help reduce chronic inflammation which contributes to a variety of health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis.

Adding walnut oil to a diet in place of other unhealthy fats may help reduce overall inflammation in the body; however, more research is needed to determine exactly how much walnut oil needs to be consumed to result in significant health outcomes.

Allergies

Unrefined cold-pressed or expeller-pressed walnut oil should be avoided for those with allergies to tree nuts or walnuts specifically. Fully refined walnut oil is unlikely to trigger an allergic response due to the refining processing which results in the nearly complete removal of all proteins that cause allergic reactions. However, if you have a walnut allergy, consult with your doctor or dietitian before using refined walnut oil.

Varieties

Walnut oil comes in two primary varieties: cold-pressed and refined. Cold-pressed walnut oil is made by pressing walnuts without the use of heat or chemical solvents resulting in better retention of inherent nutrients in the oil (i.e. plant-based polyphenols) and higher quality, more flavorful oil.

The benefit of using refined walnut oils is lower cost and a slightly higher smoke point; this would also be a good choice for those with tree nut allergies since refining removes the allergens. (Expeller pressed oil is another method of extracting similar to cold-pressed but uses a screw press which does not add any heat but results in some heat caused by friction).

Toasted or roasted walnut oil is also available, which is made by pressing walnuts that have been dried or roasted prior to extraction, lending the oil a richer nuttier flavor. This oil is typically the most expensive variety due to the extra labor involved in the processing and is more of a gourmet food product.

Storage and Food Safety

Walnut oil should be kept in a cool dark place. To extend shelf life after opening, store in the refrigerator to prevent it from turning rancid.

How To Prepare

Walnut oil should not be used for cooking at high temperatures due to its lower smoke point (300-350F). The best applications are in baking—walnut oil is a great replacement for butter or neutral oil—or in cold applications such as a vinaigrette or sauce. If applying heat, use refined walnut oil. If using primarily for the flavor, choose a high-quality, cold-pressed, or toasted walnut oil.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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  1. Walnut Oil. USDA Food Data Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html

Additional Reading
  • Walnut Oil. Self Nutrition Data.

  • Crevel RW, Kerkhoff MA, Koning MM. Allergenicity of refined vegetable oils. Food Chem Toxicol. 2000;38(4):385-393. doi:10.1016/s0278-6915(99)00158-1

  • National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements; Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Updated October 17, 2019.

  • Zibaeenezhad M, Aghasadeghi K, Hakimi H, Yarmohammadi H, Nikaein F. The Effect of Walnut Oil Consumption on Blood Sugar in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus Type 2. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2016;14(3):e34889. Published 2016 Jul 24. doi:10.5812/ijem.34889