Nut consumption improves health, reduces the risk of heart disease

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A new study suggests that people who eat nuts tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and healthier eating habits. Westend61/Getty Images
  • Nuts, including walnuts, are generally considered part of a healthy diet because of their high levels of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
  • Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that people who eat walnuts have a better heart disease risk profile than those who don’t eat walnuts.
  • The research team also reported that those who ate walnuts ate a healthier diet overall, gained less weight and enjoyed more physical activity compared to those who did not eat walnuts.

Nuts are generally considered part of a balanced diet due to its high levels of protein, fiber and healthy fats.

New research from the University of Minnesota highlights one particular nut: walnuts.

The results suggest that those who include this particular nut in their diet enjoy certain health benefits, including less weight gaina taller thanabed restand a better one risk of heart disease Profile.

This study, which was partially funded by the California Walnut Commission, was recently published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.

Although walnuts are commonly considered a nut, they are technically the seed of a fruit.

Walnut trees grow the stone fruit, also called a drupe. As the fruit ripens, the outside turns into a hard shell, which houses the edible seed, the nut, inside.

A daily serving of walnuts is equal to 1 ounce, 1/4 cup, or 12-14 walnut halves, and has a nutritional breakdown of:

  • 190 calories
  • 18 grams of fat (including 13 grams of polyunsaturated fat)
  • 4 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of dietary fiber
  • 1 gram of sugar
  • No sodium or cholesterol

According to Lauren Pelehach Sepe, clinical nutritionist at the Kellman Wellness Center in New York, NY, walnuts are some of the healthiest nuts you can eat.

“They are rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, as well as several essential minerals,” he explained Today’s Medical News. “Given their beneficial nutritional profile, walnuts are an important part of a healthy diet as they provide a number of crucial health benefits.”

Sepe said walnuts offer more health benefits compared to other nuts because they contain the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids, also known as n-3 fatty acids, of any nut.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory. They have also been shown to lower triglyceride levels and reduce plaque formationwhich is a mechanism by which they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

– Lauren Pelehach Sepe, clinical nutritionist

Sepe also cited a 2019 study showing that walnuts help provide cardiovascular benefits through their impact on intestinal microbiota.

“A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to reduced levels of inflammation, which lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease and improves your lipid profile, decreases the risk of metabolic diseaseas well as many other health benefits,” he added.

For the current study, lead author Lyn Steffen, PhD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said the primary goal was to determine whether consumers nine had a better diet pattern and a better cardiovascular risk factor. profile over 30 years of follow-up, compared to those who did not eat nuts.

For this observational study, Dra. Steffen and his team used results from the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study, which began in 1985-1986 with a group of more than 5,000 Caucasian and black men and women from between 18 and 30 years. old, and continues today.

The research team looked at data from 3,023 CARDIA participants that included 352 people who ate nuts, 2,494 who ate other nuts, and 177 who did not eat nuts.

After examining physical and clinical measures after 30 years, the researchers found that those who ate walnuts showed a better risk profile for heart disease, including:

The researchers also determined that people who consumed nuts ate an overall healthier diet, gained less weight, tested a fasting blood glucose concentration and more self-reported physical activity.

Dr. Steffen said the findings were not surprising because walnuts are an excellent source of n-3 fatty acids from plants, specifically. alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and other antioxidants.

“Other nuts are also nutritious and contain fatty acids and antioxidants, but other types of nuts do not contain ALA, plant-based n-3 fatty acids,” he explained. MNT.

“I have read about the health benefits of walnuts for many years; I wanted to see if walnut consumption would be beneficially related to CVD. [cardiovascular disease] health profiles of the CARDIA population”.

“I wrote another paper on nut consumption associated with cardiac phenotypes, that is systolic and diastolic function, using data from the CARDIA study. Although the adults’ heart function parameters were within normal ranges, the adults who consumed nuts had better values.”

– Lyn Steffen, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study

According to Sepe, there is no exact answer to determine how many walnuts a person should eat per day to enjoy the health benefits described in the study.

Still, he suggested that 1 ounce a day, which is about seven walnuts or 14 walnut halves, may provide benefits.

“They’re easy to add to your daily diet, or you can have a larger serving several times a week,” she explained. “The goal is not so much a specific number, but to start including these and other nutrient-dense foods in your diet daily to provide maximum benefits.”

As for the next steps in this research, Sepe said he would like to see more research on all the mechanisms by which walnuts provide health benefits, namely their impact on the gut.

“This could lead not only to a better understanding of how walnuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but also other health conditions,” he added.

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