Go (wal)nuts this summer

  • 2 Jul 2009
  • Reading time 2 mins
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A recent meta-analysis of studies feeding people walnuts confirms that, despite the fat and calories, eating nuts lowers your cholesterol levels. I’ve long been an advocate of eating lots of nuts and seeds which are very good sources of both antioxidants, minerals, protein and essential fats. Especially good are colder climate nuts such as walnuts. Only 7 walnuts gives you 2,000 ORACs – that’s the antioxidant power of half a dozen tomatoes.

This study of 13 studies, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that walnuts, given for 4 to 24 weeks on a daily basis do both lower cholesterol and ‘LDL’ cholesterol, which is the one you don’t want too much of. Often slated by dieticians due to their high calorie and fat content all nuts are good sources of phytosterols which lower cholesterol. They also contain vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) and other tocopherols. Almonds are a particularly good source of calcium and magnesium. They also contain something called squalene which is cancer preventive, great for your skin, immune boosting and helps lower cholesterol. The richest source of squalene is shark liver oil. Published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers Deirdre Banel and Frank Hu conducted the meta-analysis to, "estimate the effect of walnuts on blood lipids". The 13 studies selected represented some 365 participants, with diets lasting between four and 24 weeks and walnuts providing between 10 and 24 per cent of total calories. According to the researchers from Harvard Medical School "When compared with control diets, diets supplemented with walnuts resulted in a significantly greater decrease in total cholesterol and in LDL-cholesterol concentrations," They also found other health benefits for eating nuts."Other results reported in the trials indicated that walnuts provided significant benefits for certain antioxidant capacity and inflammatory markers and had no adverse effects on body weight." I recommend eating a small handful of raw nuts or seeds every day. After all, if a tree is going to grow from it it’s got to be a concentrated source of nutrients, including protein. Whenver you eat fruit be sure to have a few nuts or seeds – the carbohydrate/protein combination helps stabilise your blood sugar and hence makes you feel fuller for longer.

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