Walnuts: Crack Open a Key to Good Health

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    Crack Open a Key to Good Health

    The Commercial Appeal (2007-Current)

    05-29-07

    Kick the old standby three bean salad up the nutrition ladder by adding a pesto made with walnuts.

    For heart health, walnuts contribute important benefits. They are high in alpha linoleic acid, also known as ALA. The body can convert ALA into eicosapentanoic acid, or EPA. EPA, one of the important omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, appears to be especially helpful in lowering risk of heart disease.

    A diet high in walnuts increases LDL particle size. While it may seem like bigger LDL is more problematic, this is not true. Large particles of LDL are actually less likely to stick to arteries and cause plaque formation.

    Diets high in walnuts have also been shown to lower CRP levels. CRP, or C-reactive protein, is a measure of inflammation in the body. When there is more inflammation, especially in the arteries, scar tissue can form. As this scar tissue builds up over time it contributes to development of plaques and can cause blockage.

    In a study that compared groups getting a standard American diet to those eating a diet high in walnuts or ALA supplements, the walnuts and the ALA supplement groups had 75 percent lower C- reactive protein than the group getting the standard American diet.

    In a University of California at Davis study, volunteers who consumed diets with higher amounts of walnuts had lower levels of endothelin. Endothelin is a substance that promotes more of that inflammation in the arteries, which increases risk of plaque development.

    Walnuts are also high in L-arginine, an essential amino acid. L- arginine is converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps keep the inner walls of our blood vessels smooth and helps blood vessels be more flexible and have the ability to relax. This helps decrease risk for high blood pressure. Folks who have high blood pressure sometimes have a hard time maintaining a proper level of nitric oxide in their blood. This further increases their risk of having high blood pressure.

    Another study which looked at middle aged men and women with diabetes found that 1 ounce of walnuts per day as part of a diet that contained 30 percent of its calories from fat helped the participants significantly improve their blood cholesterol profile. One of the main long-term problems with diabetes is that it increases a person's risk of heart disease. If you have diabetes and you like walnuts, you may want to start incorporating them into your diet a little more.

    They appear to be one of nature's super foods.

    Like all nuts, walnuts are high in fat and calories. While their fat is primarily monounsaturated, which does not cause blood cholesterol to rise or increase risk of heart disease, it is still fat, the most caloric of all the nutrients. So don't start adding tons of walnuts everywhere, or you may find an unexpected weight gain.

    Instead, add them sparingly. Add a few chopped walnuts to garnish your cooked vegetables or atop your salad. Mix a few into your bowl of cereal in the morning or have a snack with four or five walnut halves added to a small handful of raisins. Cut back on the butter or margarine you use and let walnuts or other nuts contribute the fat to your meals.

    Bring this salad to your next pot luck or family gathering this summer. You will get compliments on the taste and you'll be doing everyone some good by serving it.

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    Walnuts have always been my fav of all the nuts lol..
    Anyways this, although I thought this, is good to know.. thanks

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