In 2010 the American Heart Association issued a special report setting national goals for cardiovascular health promotion and disease reduction which included a 20% reduction in deaths from heart disease and strokes by 2020. This report included the recommendation of at least 4 servings per week of nuts. The evidence is strong for heart health benefits from all types of tree nuts, like walnuts, pecans and hazel nuts. Oh, and for those of you who don’t already know, peanuts are not included as they do not grow on trees!
Of all the tree nuts, walnuts have the strongest evidence of supporting:
- pliability of blood vessels, associated with healthy blood flow and blood pressure.
- beneficial effects of cholesterol levels.
- the ability to diminish inflammation in blood vessels.
- helping to remove cholesterol from your body when eaten with other fat-containing foods.
In 2012, researchers in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts looked at the effect of eating walnuts on all of these areas. The scientists found significant improvement in cholesterol levels and blood vessel flexibility. They found benefits in both eating walnuts and in the use of walnut oil as part of the diet. The walnut oil was especially helpful for supporting blood vessel flexibility. With both the walnuts and the walnut oil, benefits were measured within just a few hours of eating them. The subjects ate one or the other but not both.
When it comes to walnut oil, it is very tasty and you’ll find lots of uses if you experiment a bit. It is delicious as part of a salad dressing or drizzled on pasta or rice or quinoa. It is not good for frying … the high heat will remove some of its great nutrients and it will taste a bit bitter. Unless you are a gourmet cook (and I’m NOT), you’ll want to include the walnut oil specifically for its health benefits. Grab the extra virgin olive oil for sure, but mix it up from time to time with walnut oil. The rest of the time … snack on some walnuts or add them to your meals. They are always in my oatmeal. I make a great sandwich on hearty bread with organic cream cheese (just press the walnuts right into the cheese), avocado and tomato slices (and a little sea salt). I love them in my salads. Oh gosh, I’m getting hungry!
Personally, I love walnuts. So does my heart! And, so does your heart too!!