Many people realize that nuts are beneficial to a healthy diet as they provide a nutritious snacking option, but did you know that they also may provide cardiovascular benefits during weight loss?
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association looked at 200 overweight and obese women who were randomly assigned to one of three study groups: a lower fat/higher carbohydrate group, lower carbohydrate/higher fat group or a walnut-rich higher fat/lower carbohydrate group. Group participants were given a detailed diet to follow and women in the walnut-rich group consumed 45 grams of walnuts per day. All women were encouraged to do an hour of moderate exercise per day. At baseline and at 6 months, the participants’ blood was assessed for triglycerides, total cholesterol and high and low density lipoprotein (HDL and LDL). While triglycerides decreased in all groups, the walnut-rich diet group had increased HDL (a good thing) and reduced LDL. While weight loss was similar in all groups, it is of note that the walnut-rich group had favorable cardiovascular effects.
This coincides with previous research that shows regular consumption of nuts is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The polyunsaturated fatty acids and other constituents of walnuts are also known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The authors concluded that eating a handful of walnuts a day is associated with cardiovascular benefits while dieting, as this group resulted in the most favorable changes in lipid levels.