Walnuts

walnuts.jpgThis delicious nut is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat the body cannot manufacture. Walnuts’ concentration of omega-3s (a quarter-cup provides 90.8% of the daily value for these essential fats) has many potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection, to the promotion of better cognitive function, to anti-inflammatory benefits helpful in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. In addition, walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties.

Omega-3’s are also found in abundance in many other foods. (see chart below), and provide the following benefits:

• Reduce inflammation throughout your body
• Keep your blood from clotting excessively
• Maintain the fluidity of your cell membranes
• Lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream
• Decrease platelet aggregation, preventing excessive blood clotting
• Inhibit thickening of the arteries by decreasing endothelial cells’ production of a platelet-derived growth factor (the lining of the arteries is composed of endothelial cells)
• Increase the activity of another chemical derived from endothelial cells (endothelium-derived nitric oxide), which causes arteries to relax and dilate
• Reduce the production of messenger chemicals called cytokines, which are involved in the inflammatory response associated with atherosclerosis
• Reduce the risk of becoming obese and improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin by stimulating the secretion of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate food intake, body weight and metabolism, and is expressed primarily by adipocytes (fat cells)
• Help prevent cancer cell growth

Best Sources:

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*An excellent link on Omega 3’s:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84

Walnuts are made up of 15 to 20 percent protein and contain linoleic (omega-6 fatty acids) and alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system.

Loaded with unsaturated fat, vitamin E, and ellagic acid, walnuts can lower cholesterol, fight cancer, and boost your brainpower.

Varieties of seeds and nuts contain Tryptophan, an important amino acid that the brain converts to serotonin. Roasted pumpkin seeds and dry sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Tryptophan, making them a safe, natural way to relive mild depression and insomnia

Walnuts strengthen the blood, overcome debility and tonify the kidneys, liver and brain.

In addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, the walnut-rich ALA diet:

• Lowers levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation strongly associated with arteriosclerosis and heart disease
• Increases levels of the protective omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
• Decreased levels of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 and E-selection, all of which are involved in cholesterol’s adhesion to the endothelium (the lining of the arteries).

Walnuts also contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid, which blocks the metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer. Ellagic acid not only helps protect healthy cells from free radical damage, but also helps detoxify potential cancer-causing substances and helps prevent cancer cells from replicating.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating walnuts after a meal high in unhealthy fats could reduce the damaging effects of such fats on blood vessels.

Researchers from Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic conducted a study on 24 adult participants, half of who had normal cholesterol levels, and half of who had moderately high levels of cholesterol. Each group was fed two high-fat meals of salami and cheese, eaten one week apart. During one meal, the researchers supplemented the food with five teaspoons of olive oil. The researcher added eight shelled walnuts to the other meal, the following week.

Tests after each meal showed that both the olive oil and the walnuts helped reduce the onset of dangerous inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after the meals, which were high in saturated fat. However, unlike the olive oil, the walnuts also helped the arteries maintain their elasticity and flexibility, even in the participants with higher cholesterol.

Lead researcher Dr. Emilio Ros said walnuts’ protective effects could be because the nuts are high in antioxidants and ALA, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Walnuts also contain arginine, which is an amino acid that the body uses to produce nitric oxide — necessary for keeping blood vessels flexible.
Professor Robert Vogel, of Maryland University, said, “This demonstrates that the protective fat from walnuts actually undoes some of the detrimental effects of a high-saturated-fat diet, whereas neutral fat, such as olive oil, does not have as much protective ability.” Vogel also said walnuts — not olive oil, as most people believe — could be the reason the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial.
Natural health advocate Mike Adams says raw nuts and seeds offer astonishing health benefits” to those who consume them regularly. For maximum benefit, it is important that all nuts be consumed in their raw, unprocessed and unsalted form. Cooking or roasting nuts destroys much of their nutritional value.
Ros recommended consumers eat 1 ounce of walnuts each day, but warned against consumers believing they could eat an unhealthy diet and simply offset the consequences with walnuts. Instead, consumers should consider making walnuts part of a healthy diet that limits saturated fats.

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