New research suggests walnuts’ ability to reduce cholesterol may only be one of the many ways these nuts help to protect the heart.

A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition included overweight men and menopausal women ranging in age from 30 to 65 with elevated cholesterol levels. Each participant was assigned to one of the three diets: the average American diet (control diet), a linoleic acid (LA) diet including one ounce of walnuts and a teaspoon of walnut oil daily, and an alpha-linoleic acid diet (ALA), which added a teaspoon of flaxseed oil (another source of ALA) to the linoleic diet.

Both diets including walnuts resulted in positive effects on the participants health, with the ALA diet providing the most benefit.

3 Ways Walnuts Reduce Inflammation and Benefit Heart Health

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

  • Reduced levels of C-reactive protein – a marker of inflammation strongly associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease
  • Increased levels of protective omega-3 fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Decreased levels of factors involved with cholesterol’s ability to adhere to the lining of the arteries

Go ahead and crack into walnuts and crunch to your heart’s content. Their rich flavor complements just about any meal – from piquant  or fruity salads, to chicken and fish dishes.