Walnuts have a very rich supply of alpha-linolenic acids that help to improve the artery functions after having a meal high in fat, and might even be more beneficial in your typical Mediterranean-style diet than olive oil in improving your heart health than even olive oil. In a recent study, a dozen perfectly healthy people as well as twelve patients that had higher than normal cholesterol levels randomly were commissioned to consume either one meal that was high in fat, which included also forty grams of plain walnuts, or a meal that included twenty five grams of extra virgin olive oil. Then after a week, those participants that were eating the walnuts then crossed on over to the olive oil, and visa versa.
Researchers took note of the activity within the participants' blood vessels right after the meal, then looked at the cholesterol as well as the triglyceride levels, the blood levels of ADMA, and the markers of oxidative blood and stress levels of ADMA as well. AMDA is the by-product of the metabolisms of both the proteins and arginines that are said to block the amino type acid L-arginine, that is involved with the making of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide flows with the smooth muscle in the blood vessels, which causes them to shrink, thus increasing the blood flow.
E-selectin, which is a molecule which plays a big role in the cell adhesion, a process by which any damaged cholesterol sticks to the blood vessel walls and forms plaque, fell also right after that walnut meal. A lot of people seem to forget forget that the walnut is an important addition to the Mediterranean diet that that gives us many health benefits. Walnuts, no like olive oil or other nuts, contain vast amounts of the polyunsaturated acids, specifically the alpha-linolenic acid, which is an important plant-based fatty acid.
They also give antioxidants as well as L-arginine, which are components that were identified in previous studies as possible nutrients which improve the artery function. This shows us that the protective fat out of walnuts in fact undoes a few of the negative effects of high-saturated-fat diets. A neutral fat like olive oil however, doesn't have nearly as much of that protective ability.
This doesn't mean though that by simply eating some walnuts you can compensate an unhealthy diet. People could get entirely the wrong message out of those findings if they thought they could keep eating any unhealthy fats if they just add walnuts into their meals. So while this study clearly shows that walnuts are very good for you, they are but one aspect of a Mediterranean diet. Heavy in fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish whole grains, and even olive oil, the famed Mediterranean diet incorporates virtually thousands of beneficial vitamins, phytonutrients, and nutrients. It is the combining of these beneficial and healthy compounds that goes a long way to explain why this method of eating can be associated with living a longer life as well as it's ability to protect against many diseases.
Interview: Peter Alexander
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