Eat Walnuts for a Healthy Heart

By Charlie Nardozzi

With Thanksgiving approaching, many Americans are planning special holiday meals, which often are high in fat. Fat molecules have many deleterious effects on the body, including causing inflammation of the arteries and reducing their elasticity. New research indicates that eating walnuts with a high-fat meal may help reduce the damage to your arteries.

Researchers at the University of Barcelona, Spain, recruited 24 nonsmoking individuals with normal blood pressure and weight. Half of them had normal cholesterol levels and half had moderately high levels. They were all put on a low-cholesterol Mediterranean diet for two weeks prior to the study and during the study. The individuals were split into two groups, and each group was provided with two high-fat meals, eaten one week apart. One group was given olive oil with the high-fat meals, the other group was given 40 grams of walnuts (about 8 shelled walnuts) with their high-fat meals.

The results indicated that eating walnuts with the high-fat meals helped preserve the elasticity and flexibility of the arteries and protect them from inflammation and oxidation, regardless of the individual's cholesterol levels. It's believed that arginine amino acid in the walnuts is responsible for this healthful effect. While it appears that walnuts can protect your heart from the damaging effects of high-fat meals, it's not a carte blanche to indulge in poor eating habits. The researchers advise eating walnuts as part of a healthy diet.

For more information about this research, go to: American College of Cardiology.

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