A recent study conducted by Yale University finds walnuts may improve cardiovascular health by improving endothelial (inner lining of blood vessels) function for individuals with type II diabetes. The study followed 24 diabetics before and after an 8 week diet including a daily serving of 2 ounces of walnuts.
Not only was the walnut addition linked to improved endothelial function, but participants also experienced increased fasting serum glucose levels, lower total cholesterol, and reduced LDL cholesterol. Another plus is that there was no weight gain due to the walnut addition.
Walnuts are a good source of heart healthy fats including the poly-unsaturated fatty acid omega 3’s, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is linked to many heart health benefits. Some omega 3 benefits include decrease lipoprotein(a), lower triglycerides, reduced arterial wall inflammation, and improved heart rhythm. Walnuts also provide additional nutrients, including vitamin E, B vitamins, fiber, and several minerals.
In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a label claim for walnut packages:
“Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
If you decide to make walnuts a regular part of your diet there is one thing you need to keep in mind - calories. A 1.5 ounce serving of walnuts provides ~278 calories. There are approximately 20 walnut halves in a 1.5 ounce serving. So, again all good things in moderationHere are a few simple ways to add walnuts to your daily diet:
- Mix walnuts with dried fruit for a nutritious snack
- Add toasted walnuts to a salad or pasta dish
- Sprinkle chopped walnuts on oatmeal or breakfast cereal
Be sure to sign up for the e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.