Sara Middleton via NaturalHealth365 – Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, affects an estimated 1 in 58 Americans and is one of the main drivers of morbidity and mortality. Considered a chronic inflammatory disease, it leads to a build-up of plaque inside the arteries, impairs healthy blood flow, and drives the formation of blood clots.
Not surprisingly, keeping our arteries pliable and free of plaque can have enormous implications for our longevity and quality of life since cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America. And new research suggests that sprinkling a handful of this popular nut into your daily diet can have a promising impact.
Want Better Cholesterol? New Clinical Trial Suggests a Simple Food Choice Can Help
In 2017, the European Atherosclerosis Society Consensus Panel concluded that current evidence “unequivocally establishes” that LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol causes atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, making it a clear modifiable risk factor to focus on in disease prevention. Of course, LDL cholesterol is not the only risk … other factors for atherosclerosis include oxidative stress from toxic exposures, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.
Having said that, could something as simple as snacking on walnuts every day really be an effective way to lower LDL cholesterol and, in time, help you avoid the hardening of the arteries? A recently published randomized controlled trial with two years worth of data says yes.
The trial, published in the Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, found that eating 1 to 2 servings of walnuts per day (about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup, or 30 to 60 grams), which is roughly equivalent to about 15% of a person’s daily intake, can lead to a mean reduction in LDL cholesterol by 4.3 mg/dL among people with “normal” lipid profiles. An even greater improvement in LDL levels has been observed in people with high total cholesterol.
90% of the 708 trial participants completed the study.
The authors add that frequent nut consumption has been associated overall with a 15% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a 23% reduced risk of lower CVD-related deaths.
This study does come with one red flag: it was funded by the California Walnut Commission (CWC) and therefore had a potential conflict of interest. That said, walnuts are generally considered a safe and healthy food for anyone without a nut allergy and are an excellent plant-based source of various fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
In Addition to Eating More Walnuts, Here Are Other Things You Can Do to Help Your Arteries Stay Healthier as You Age
Walnuts and other nuts and seeds are healthy when consumed in moderation – but they do tend to be high in calories, so it’s essential to monitor your intake, especially if you’re trying to keep your arteries healthy.
Why? Because being overweight or obese increases your risk of high LDL cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic. Conversely, getting to a healthy weight can improve cardiovascular health and prevent atherosclerosis.
You can also protect your heart and arteries by:
- Avoiding toxins in your food, water, personal care / household products and immediate air space.
- Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
- Managing stress levels and improving sleep habits.
- Eating lots of chemical-free (organic vegetables and fruit) – rich in antioxidants.
- Exploring natural supplements that may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, such as alpha-linolenic acid, fish oil, garlic, green tea, oat bran and barley.
- And, of course, staying well hydrated with clean water.
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