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Walnuts Linked To Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Walnuts taste great crumbled on top of your favorite dessert, but did you know they’re an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants?

A recent study looked at consumption versus non-consumption, and determined that regular walnut eaters typically display better eating habits than eaters who do not eat walnuts. The research held especially true for eaters whose parents incorporated walnuts into their diets at a younger age.

Basically, adopting one healthy habit led to adopting more healthy habits; which makes sense, given the addictive nature of positive momentum in life. Furthermore, walnut consumption in earlier life often led to fewer cardiovascular issues later in life, as well.

Lead researcher Lyn M. Steffen, PhD, MPH, RD, associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said the new study demonstrates that eating walnuts could also improve body composition.

“The main objective of this study was to determine if walnut consumers compared to those who didn’t consume walnuts (other nut consumers or no nut consumers) had a better diet pattern and better cardiovascular risk factor profile over 30 years of follow-up,” Steffen said. “We found walnut consumers had a better body composition and [fewer] cardiovascular risk factors as they aged.”

She also said that walnuts are packed with healthy gut nutrients and special vitamins associated with longevity.

How many walnuts should you eat per day?

“Walnuts are an excellent source of plant n-3 fatty acids — more specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) — and other antioxidants,” Steffen said. “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. Additionally, walnuts contain lots of nutrients that promote health — fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, vitamin B6, folate, and thiamin.”

Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, assistant professor UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, agrees.

“Walnuts are extremely high in both monounsaturated fats, which are heart healthy, and also polyunsaturated fats (omega-3s) from ALA — the plant-based source of ALA,” she said. “One ounce of walnuts contains more than 1.5 [times] the amount of suggested omega-3 from ALA as stated by the Institutes of Medicine (IoM), and we can transform some of this ALA into DHA and EPA in our bodies, which is why the IoM only has a recommended intake level for ALA.”

Walnuts also help you sleep better, find out why HERE!

If you have nut allergies, whole foods such as leafy greens, chia seeds, and legumes have similar nutrients. But if you’re okay to eat nuts and want to incorporate a few bites per day into your diet as a better-for-you snack than chips or sugary protein bars, give walnuts a try. You only need about an ounce (a small handful) of them to satisfy your daily requirements. They might just transform your eating habits for life.

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