A nut-enriched diet may be essential for those who want to reduce heart disease and stroke risk.
Eating nuts regularly has been shown to lower cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death rates from CVD.
Studies show that adding half-a-cup of walnuts to our everyday diet can decrease the levels of bad cholesterol, the number of small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, and total LDL particles, as well as lowering blood pressure.
Walnuts contain a type of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid, which is heart healthy.
The conclusions come from a study that examined the effect of walnuts on cardiovascular health and wellbeing.
For this, 708 healthy adults who were 63 to 79-years-old received a daily doses of 30 to 60 grams of walnuts for two years.
Dr Emilio Ros, study co-author, said:
“Prior studies have shown that nuts in general, and walnuts in particular, are associated with lower rates of heart disease and stroke.
One of the reasons is that they lower LDL-cholesterol levels, and now we have another reason: they improve the quality of LDL particles.
LDL particles come in various sizes.
Research has shown that small, dense LDL particles are more often associated with atherosclerosis, the plaque or fatty deposits that build up in the arteries.
Our study goes beyond LDL cholesterol levels to get a complete picture of all of the lipoproteins and the impact of eating walnuts daily on their potential to improve cardiovascular risk.”
Here is a summary of their findings:
- Total cholesterol levels reduced by 8.5 mg/dL , and LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels by 4.3 mg/dL.
- The number of small LDL particles fell by 6.1 percent and total LDL particles by 4.3 percent. These alterations in LDL particle concentration found to lower cardiovascular disease risk.
- Levels of Intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDLs) decreased. IDLs are similar to LDL as they can build up plaque in the arteries and so become a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Men apparently benefited more from eating walnuts as they saw a reduction of 7.9 percent in LDL cholesterol whereas this was only 2.6 percent for women.
Dr Ros said:
“While this is not a tremendous decrease in LDL cholesterol, it’s important to note that at the start of the study all our participants were quite healthy, free of major non-communicable diseases.
For individuals with high blood cholesterol levels, the LDL cholesterol reduction after a nut-enriched diet may be much greater.
Eating a handful of walnuts every day is a simple way to promote cardiovascular health.
Many people are worried about unwanted weight gain when they include nuts in their diet.
Our study found that the healthy fats in walnuts did not cause participants to gain weight.”
Another study by Mohammadifard and colleagues found that people who eat nuts 2+ weekly are 17 percent less likely to die from heart disease.
Several other studies have also found that eating nuts has other health benefits.
For example, Pribis and team revealed that eating one handful of walnuts a day improves mood by 28 percent.
Another piece of research found that eating nuts regularly strengthens brainwaves related to cognition, learning, memory and even healing.
As well as being high in alpha-linolenic acid, walnuts and pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts and other nuts are rich sources of antioxidants like polyphenols and phytosterols that improve heart health.
About the author
The study was published in the journal Circulation (Rajaram et al., 2021).
Hello, and welcome to PsyBlog. Thanks for dropping by.
This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.
I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.