In Season: Walnuts

Walnuts,Kernels,On,Dark,Desk,With,Color,Background,,Whole,Walnut
Walnuts,Kernels,On,Dark,Desk,With,Color,Background,,Whole,Walnut

Walnuts could be the new natural treatment for cardiovascular disease. More severe heart problems must be fixed or aided with medication or surgery, but cardiovascular problems can be aided or worsened by what goes into your body. There have been many studies done on walnuts and the healing properties they have that help treat many ailments and afflictions.

“Jupiter’s Royal Acorn”

Walnuts are the oldest known food grown from trees and they go back all the way to the Roman Empire around 7000 B.C. They were originally reserved for royalty, known by names like “Jupiter’s Royal Acorn” and the “Persian Walnut.” The first commercial walnuts were grown in California in the late 1700s by the Franciscan Fathers. That supply grew over time and now more than 99% of the walnuts in United States are grown in the fertile soils of California’s Central Valley. Internationally, California walnuts supply two-thirds of the world’s walnut trade.

Walnuts are made up of 65% fat and 15% protein, which makes them packed with energy and calories. However, studies have shown that they do not increase the risk for obesity. Walnuts contain copper and Vitamin B6 to aid with immune system function, folic acid, phosphorus and Vitamin E. Walnuts aren’t the only nuts that have considerable health benefits, as there have been massive studies done on the advantages different kinds of nuts have on the body.

Walnuts help decrease high cholesterol

For over 30 years, the California Walnut Commission has supported health-related research examining the effect of walnut consumption on areas including heart health, cognition, cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, gut health, body weight/composition, reproductive health and more. Eating walnuts as part of a healthy diet may decrease your risk of heart disease, which is the largest cause of death in the world.

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Walnuts help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure, two of the major risk factors for heart disease. They are also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are the “good fats” otherwise known as polyunsaturated fats that perform many necessary functions in the body. It is essential that you consume more omega-3s because our body doesn’t produce enough to survive on its own, so we must consume extra.

Reduce threat of heart disease

A recent study suggests that walnuts may be a particularly good choice for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. This isn’t the first time researchers have come to this conclusion. A previous analysis by the same researchers found that diets enriched with walnuts led to lower total LDL (“bad”) cholesterol when compared with other diets.

Walnuts contain 2.5 grams of ALA per ounce. Research has found that omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) in those with high cholesterol. This inflammatory marker is more present in people with high cholesterol levels and by decreasing the proteins by eating walnuts, it decreases those high cholesterol levels.

This latest analysis combined data from 26 different trials, including more than 1,000 people. The analysis compared those on a regular diet with those consuming a walnut-enriched diet and the differences are staggering. Those who ate a walnut rich diet had lower total cholesterol (3% reduction), lower LDL cholesterol (4% reduction), lower triglycerides (5.5% reduction), and lower apoprotein B (a protein linked to cardiovascular disease).

While this new research is intriguing, it also raises the question “are walnuts unique in some way compared to other nuts?” In fact, it may be the types of oils in walnuts that make them special when it comes to cardiovascular health. Walnuts contain a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are healthier than saturated fats. In addition, walnuts have alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids, which may have anti-inflammatory effects that keep blood vessels healthy, in addition to having favorable effects on blood lipids.

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All different types of nuts contain numerous types of nutrients and vitamins. Many nuts, such as almonds and cashews, are rich in monounsaturated fats, along with polyunsaturated fats. These are healthier types of fats than saturated and trans fats, but the specific combination of fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in walnuts may be particularly good for cardiovascular health.

The bottom line is that no single food in your diet can make you healthy. It’s the big picture that matters most. A healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding excess weight, and not smoking are good starting points. And even with a healthy lifestyle, some people require medication or other treatments to reduce their risk of cardiovascular and other heart diseases. But walnuts are a natural way to reduce your risk of heart problems if you or your family have a history of cardiovascular issues.

References

History – California Walnuts

Walnuts 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits (healthline.com)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids & the Important Role They Play (clevelandclinic.org)

C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test: High, Low, and Normal Ranges (medicinenet.com)

Author
Olivia Salzwedel

InnoVision Health Media reports on health content that is supported by our editorial advisory board and content published in our group of peer reviewed medical journals.

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