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Walnuts: Good for the Heart?

Submitted by Sharon Hopkins on June 29, 2007

Walnuts are nuts, known for their aroma and flavor that they contribute to food. The effect of a diet rich in saturated fat is overcome by the omega 3 fatty acids in walnuts that are not synthesized by the body. Walnuts are heart healthy. This protective feature is absent in olive oil. They enhance the nutrient content of a diet.

These help in providing relief from psoriasis and eczema. They improve the cognitive efficiency of individuals and enhance their immunity and this is attributed to the chemical compound, ellagic acid.

This is also effective in providing anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects in arthritis and asthmatic patients respectively.

The tree of walnuts is renowned for their aesthetic looks and is highly priced. The kernel comprises of two lobes, which look similar to the brain lobes or butterflies. They are protected outside by a hard shell, brown in color and is white on the inside.

The lobes are golden brown in color.

Coronary artery disease prevention is one more protective function of walnuts. Research reveals the heart-friendly role and cardio protective function of walnuts and their role in lowering the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and Lp(a), a lipoprotein helpful in raising the coagulation of blood, thereby resulting in atherosclerotic plaques.

They are rich sources of mono unsaturated fats. The cardio protective function is attributed to the omega 3 fatty acid content of walnuts. This is done by decreasing the incidence of tachycardia, raising the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and by decreasing blood coagulation. It decreases the plaque formation and further, reduces swelling.

Walnuts are rich in amino acid, arginine. In vivo, arginine is converted to nitric oxide, a compound that aids in relaxation of blood vessels. It also helps in smoothening the walls of the vessels. Walnuts serve an important role in the diet of a hypertensive subjects, as they find it difficult to regulate the nitric oxide levels. Thereby, it helps in regulating the lifestyle of diabetics and cardiac subjects. The free radical damage of LDL cholesterol, is decreased by walnuts. This is attributed to the scavenging role of the antioxidants, ellagic acid and gallic acid. The polyphenols in walnuts also possess free radical scavenging property.

Research reveals the contribution of nuts towards type 2 diabetes. The risk of developing the same is reduced by the consumption of 30-60 grams every day. As 200 kilocalories is provided by 30 grams of walnuts, it can bed as a substitute snack. They are not helpful in weight gain.

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