Eating walnuts from an early age is associated with better overall health and a lower cardiovascular risk profile, especially in middle age. Here’s what determines the research you’ve reviewed records of eating habits twenty years into the futureand other thirty years of medical and fitness records derived from the CARDIA Coronary and Arterial Risk Study.
According to the researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota (USA), who conducted the study, it would be enough to add a handful of walnuts to your daily diet to promote both healthy eating and lifestyle habits.
Similarly, an exceptional combination of nutrients that we can find in this dried fruit would be an affordable way to prevent a whole range of heart risk factors, according to the article published in the journal Nutrition, metabolism and cardiovascular disease.
As you remember, walnuts are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based type of omega-3 essential for ensuring heart health, brain health and promoting healthy longevity in general. In about 28 grams – a handful – of nuts we also find 4 grams of protein, two fibers, 45 milligrams of magnesium and antioxidants such as polyphenols.
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For the longitudinal and observational study, which was partially funded by the California Walnut Commission, health data were collected from more than 3000 young people (from 18 to 30 years old) of both sexes and racial backgrounds and residents of Birmingham (Alabama), Chicago (Illinois), Minneapolis (Minnesota) and Oakland (California).
After starting the CARDIA study in 1985-86, participants detailed their dietary habits on three occasions and underwent multiple health examinations over time to record their physical fitness. They were divided into three groups – “nut eaters”, “other nut eaters” and “non-nut eaters” – and cardiovascular risk measures were recorded, including blood lipids (triglycerides)on fasting blood sugar and on insulin concentration.
After identifying 352 “nut eaters,” 2,494 “other nut eaters,” and 177 “non-nut eaters,” the researchers found that those in the first group had the best levels of physical activity. Eating walnuts instead of other nuts was also associated with reductions in four cardiovascular risk factors: body mass index (BMI), abdominal circumference, blood pressure, and triglycerides.
Eating walnuts was also associated with lower weight gain, and the group that ate them was recorded exclusively fewer people with obesity over time from the other two. Compared to those who did not eat nuts, those who ate nuts had lower fasting blood sugar concentrations. Those who ate other nuts finally had the highest LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Finally, after 20 years, eating walnuts from an early age was associated with a better score on the 2015 Healthy Eating Index compared to the other two groups. Nuts eat more essential nutrients which are usually lacking in the “Western diet” model, such as alpha-linolenic and gamma-linolenic fatty acids, vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium, and dietary fiber.
Because this was an observational study, the researchers could not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between nut consumption and lifestyle habits, which ranged from increased physical activity to healthier activity. However, his hypothesis is that a daily handful of walnuts acts as delivering saturating energy that is comfortably receivedfavoring a more active life and reducing the need to eat in larger quantities and with more calories.