Many scientists have implemented research to find out whether walnut consumption would lower risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
A recent study published in the journal Circulation of the American Heart Association focuses on the benefits of adding this nut to the diet on levels of cholesterol. The project was done by scientists of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona in Spain.
The findings showed that eating walnuts would help lower the total cholesterol and moderately reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
There were 636 people participating in this project, aged between 63 and 79 years old. They all lived in either Loma Linda, California, or Barcelona, Spain. 67 percent of them were female. All participants were healthy and had no serious health issues.
50 percent of participants were taking hypercholesterolemia or high blood pressure medications. And 32 percent of them were taking statins.
All participants were divided into 2 groups: one did not consume any walnuts and the others consumed one cup in their daily diet.
The authors used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure levels of cholesterol and analyzed the size and concentration of lipoproteins.
Over time, those who ate walnuts lowered their levels of total cholesterol by around 8.5 mg/dl (4.3 percent) and levels of LDL cholesterol by 4.3 mg/dl (6.1 percent).
In the walnut group, results were different by gender. Cholesterol levels dropped by 2.6 percent in women and 7.9 percent in men.
Overall, the findings suggested the good benefits of eating walnuts on reducing bad cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, reducing anti-inflammatory effects, as well as improving endothelial function.
In general, walnuts come with an optimal composition of bioactives and nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, phytomelatonin, and polyphenol.
The authors have suggested that consuming walnuts on a regular basis would reduce LDL cholesterol and improve LDL particles’ quality, making them less atherogenic. This can subsequently reduce the overall risks of cardiovascular issues.
A limitation of this study is that it was not blinded. This means that all participants knew exactly which group they were in.
Also, the project was implemented in free-living individuals rather than in a controlled feeding condition. In other words, participants may decide what they eat daily and many foods or products may thus affect the final results.
Last but not least, the study was financed by the California Walnut Commission, which represents a group of walnut handlers and growers.