FNRB - Walnuts: Potential New Link to Heart Health Uncovered

Already shown in some studies to reduce "bad" (LDL) cholesterol, walnuts may have yet another way of enhancing your cardiovascular health.

Tests on 100 laboratory hamsters that ate feed containing ground walnuts for a half-year showed they had significantly lower levels of a protein called endothelin in their arteries. This protein helps regulate blood pressure. But, it also causes inflammation of arteries and growth of sticky deposits, called plaque, in blood vessels. These two conditions contribute to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Walnuts suppressed heart artery endothelin when fed at amounts equal to an adult human's eating from three to eight handfuls of walnuts daily (Journal of Nutrition, volume 135, pages 428 to 432). The study was an international collaboration between scientists with ARS, the University of California-Davis and University of Padova (Italy).

Whether this beneficial effect occurs in people at more moderate amounts of walnuts needs further study.

The California Walnut Commission, Sacramento, Calif., helped fund the research.