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Researchers confirm heart-health benefits of walnuts

Category: Advanced Lipid Treatment I

Cholesterol testing kits can help people learn whether they should change their diet and engage in more exercise than they currently do in order to improve their levels. While most people know that consuming red meat and other foods high in saturated fat may increase the amount of low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, in their bodies, they may have trouble identifying which foods can help lower cholesterol.

Recently, researchers from Penn State, Tufts University and University of Pennsylvania determined that one thing people can do if they want to potentially improve their cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels is consume walnuts. The scientists found that eating whole walnuts or their extracted oil may reduce the risk of heart disease. While this is something that researchers have long known, scientists now understand why it works.

Walnuts are a superfood
Scientists gave 15 individuals with high cholesterol one of four treatments - consuming either 85 grams of whole walnuts, 6 g​. of skin, 34 g​. of defatted nutmeat or 51 g​. of oil. The researchers discovered that consuming the oil even once helped improve cardiovascular health. Furthermore, consuming whole walnuts helped high-density lipoprotein or "good" cholesterol better remove bad cholesterol from the body.

"Our study showed that the oil found in walnuts can maintain blood vessel function after a meal, which is very important given that blood vessel integrity is often compromised in individuals with cardiovascular disease," said Claire Berryman, graduate student in nutritional sciences, Penn State. "The walnut oil was particularly good at preserving the function of endothelial cells, which play an important role in cardiovascular health."

The researchers explained that walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-tocopherol and phytosterols, which may account for the positive effects of walnut oil.

Berryman added that these findings suggest that doing something as simple as consuming walnuts could go a long way toward improving cardiovascular health.

What else should you eat?
Other than walnuts, there are other foods that have been shown to potentially help lower cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular health. For example, Prevention magazine recommends that people consume oatmeal, red wine and salmon - which contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids - if they want to potentially improve their cholesterol levels. People also need to make checking their cholesterol levels a priority. Some individuals may think they are doing a good job to keep them low, when they actually should be taking medications or changing their diet.

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