Daily Walnuts May Improve Overall Diet Quality
Researchers from the Yale University Prevention Research Center and colleagues had more than 100 study participants add two ounces of walnuts to their diets daily. The participants ate the walnuts for six months then removed the daily walnuts for another six months. Half of each group also received counseling about healthy nutrition, including how to offset the additional calories consumed by eating walnuts. Several interesting results were found from this one simple dietary change.
For starters, the participants, who were at increased risk of developing diabetes because they were either overweight or had elevated blood sugar or blood pressure levels, had improvements in blood vessel wall (epithelial) function, and lower levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Improvements were also seen in other heart variables, such as blood pressure and body fat, but similar improvements were also seen in the group excluding almonds, which means the walnuts may not have been responsible for the heart benefits.
What was remarkable, however, was a significant boost in diet quality among the participants eating walnuts. And despite the added walnuts, none of the participants gained weight. David L. Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, told Forbes:
Eating Walnuts May Lower Your Risk of Heart-Related Death
Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors. Walnuts also contain the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is anti-inflammatory. Research shows that people who eat a diet high in ALA are less likely to have a fatal heart attack and have a nearly 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death.
Eating just four walnuts a day has been shown to significantly raise blood levels of heart-healthy ALA, and walnut consumption supports healthy cholesterol levels.
Separate research showed that eating just one ounce of walnuts a day may decrease cardiovascular risk, and among those at high cardiovascular risk, increased frequency of nut consumption significantly lowers the risk of death.
Previous research by Katz and colleagues also revealed that eating about two ounces of walnuts daily improved endothelial function in overweight adults with visceral fat without leading to weight gain. Endothelial dysfunction (affecting the inner lining of blood vessels) is associated with cardiovascular events.
Dr. Brad Niewierowski