The walnut’s health benefits come from its concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which are a healthy type of fat that the body cannot make on its own. A quarter cup of walnuts gives you more than 90 percent of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts also contain a compound called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid has been proven to help your immune system and even has cancer fighting abilities.
Improves Cholesterol Levels
A study published in a magazine for diabetics compared the cholesterol levels of people on three different six-month diets. One group ate a low fat diet, another group a modified low fat diet and the third group ate a modified low fat diet that included one ounce of walnuts a day. The walnut diet group increased their HDL, or good cholesterol, more than the other groups. They also reduced their LDL, or bad cholesterol, by 10 percent more than the other two diet groups.
Prevents and Controls High Blood Pressure
Researchers completed a study of lifestyle factors and their effect on blood pressure. Study participants with a higher omega-3 percentage had a lower blood pressure rating than those who consumed less omega-3. This was a reduction of both systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) numbers by at least 0.55 mm. Previous studies have shown that lowering blood pressure numbers by just 2 mm reduces the stroke death rate by six percent. That small reduction also reduces the heart attack death rate by four percent. As mentioned above, walnuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. This makes walnuts a convenient portable weapon in your heart health plan.
Protects Your Heart
The United States Food and Drug Administration has endorsed the health claim that “eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Walnuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated or healthy fat, which is good for you. 15 percent of the fat in walnuts is that type of healthy fat.
Prevents Your Arteries from Clogging
Another study looked at the effects of adding walnuts or olive oil to a fatty meal. Two groups of 12 people ate either the walnut or olive oil added meal. Then a week later they switched and ate the other type of meal.
The researchers reported that the blood flow in the main artery of the arms of the people that ate the walnut containing meal increased by 24 percent. However, the blood flow decreased by 36 percent after they ate the olive oil containing meal.
A molecule called e-selectin decreased after they ate the walnut meal. E-selectin helps damaged cholesterol to stick to artery walls and form plaque. This is how plague blocks your arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
You will be hard pressed to find any food that packs more nutritional punch and health benefits than walnuts. This delicious nut should be part of your healthy lifestyle. Throw a handful on top of your cereal or into your muffin recipe and enjoy.