At this time of year the shops are full of festive foods and one of these which are particularly beneficial to your health are walnuts. Check out why you should endeavour to make them part of your diet not only at Christmas but throughout the year.
Health benefits of walnuts
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Fighting breast & prostate cancer
- Slowing the progression of rheumatoid & osteoarthritis
- Encouraging production of serotonin to help you eat less
- Lowering risk of diabetes
- Expanding memory retention
- Protecting against retinopathy & age related macular degeneration
- Boosting levels of melatonin to help you sleep
- Strengthening your hair & reducing hair loss
For all these reasons you should try to incorporate walnuts into your diet. Why not try some of the following suggestions:
- Waldorf salad with apples & celery
- Grilled goats cheese salad with sliced pears & watercress
- Scattered on your breakfast cereal or porridge
- Coffee & walnut cake
- Added to oats & raisins in flapjacks
- Pear & walnut upside down cake
- Date & walnut scones
- Roquefort & walnut open ravioli
Could walnuts lower cholesterol?
According to a recent study, a daily dose of walnuts could help to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Scientists say the nut contains particularly high levels of important heart-friendly nutrients.
The researchers analysed data from 61 controlled trials, involving 2,582 participants overall. These were trials in which volunteers were directly provided with nuts to eat rather than being advised to consume them, so that the effects of the dietary change could be more accurately assessed. The dose of nuts varied from five to 100g each day.
Findings showed that regularly eating walnuts seemed to lower LDL, otherwise known as bad cholesterol, and ApoB – the primary protein found in LDL. These are key factors that are used to evaluate a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers concluded that two servings (two ounces) of walnuts a day seems to be the optimum amount for strong effects on total cholesterol levels. They also stressed that tree nut consumption could play a particularly important role in lowering the risk of heart disease in those with type 2 diabetes.
“Our study results further support the growing body of evidence that tree nuts, such as walnuts, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases,” says Dr Michael Falk, one of the study’s authors from the Life Sciences Research Organisation. “Tree nuts contain important nutrients. Walnuts are the only nut that provide a significant amount – 2.5g per one ounce serving – of alpha-linolenic (ALA), the plant-based form of omega-3.”
This is not the first study to link tree nuts to reduced LDL cholesterol. Research has also shown that they can help to increase levels of HDL – good cholesterol – and generally reduce inflammation in the body. These effects play a crucial role in improving the health of your heart, so there are plenty of reasons to make walnuts and many other nuts a part of your diet. If you’re not a fan of walnuts, other tree nuts include almonds, hazelnuts, chestnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews and pistachios.