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Walnuts May Improve Heart Health

Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A recent study from the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center suggests that eating walnuts regularly may help protect against both of those ailments in overweight individuals with one or more risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

Participants in the study included 46 people with central obesity with at least one risk factor for metabolic syndrome. They were divided into two groups and alternately followed an unrestricted diet for one eight week period, and then an unrestricted diet supplemented with 2 ounces of shelled, unroasted English walnuts daily for another eight week period. The two eight week periods were separated by a four week washout period.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that eating walnuts improved endothelial function and did not lead to weight gain. Endothelial function is a measure of how well the cells lining the wall of the arteries are working. Flow-mediated vasodilation improved by 1.4% when a walnut-enriched diet was consumed, compared to 0.3% when no walnuts were consumed.

The study was published online ahead of print on July 25, 2013, in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Previous research has found that the health benefits of walnuts include improving heart health and brain health. These benefits are a result of the antioxidant and ant-inflammatory properties of walnuts. Walnuts are also a great source of protein and are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E.

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