Think walnuts are too high in fat to be part of a heart healthy diet? Well, don't be a victim of food myth-information. March is Nutrition Month and this year's message is to "Make Sense of the Food You Eat." Based on some recent scientific evidence, including walnuts in a healthy diet makes good sense.
Research from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and the Loma Linda University confirms previous findings that walnuts play an important role in a heart healthy lifestyle. Incorporating a daily handful of walnuts (about 14 halves) into a cholesterol-lowering diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease by significantly lowering LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels.
In the Barcelona study, a total of 49 men and women with high blood cholesterol followed two diets, each for six weeks. The first diet was a cholesterol-lowering Mediterranean-type diet containing olive oil. The second cholesterol-lowering diet partially replaced olive oil and other fatty foods with walnuts. Both diets had the same number of calories. The Mediterranean diet lowered cholesterol significantly. However, the walnut diet results were even better, reducing total cholesterol 4% and LDL cholesterol 6% more than the Mediterranean diet. The risk of heart disease was also reduced by 11% on the walnut diet.
The key to the cholesterol-lowering effect of walnuts is the type of fat they contain. Replacing some of the saturated fats found in butter, meat, processed foods and snack foods with healthier fats found in walnuts, appears to be beneficial to heart health. Walnuts provide many other important nutrients such as calcium, folate, iron, zinc and the antioxidant vitamin E. As well, they are a source of dietary fibre and phytosterols, which in large amounts decrease the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.
For more information on National Nutrition Month and nutrition myths, visit the Dietitians of Canada website
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.