More than ever before, researchers are convined about the nutritional benefits of walnuts. Each walnut you crack open and eat contains loads of vitamins, phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids, as well as those hard-to-find omega-3 fatty acids, th almost 90% of the phenols being found in the skin. To array of compounds contributes to heart health, works to prevent cancer, helps fight diabetes, improves cognitive function, and may even help with a better night’s sleep. While many nuts have proven to be extremely beneficial to your health, studies are showing that eating a handful of walnuts contains almost twice as many antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. Over the course of this article, we’ll demonstrate through scientific studies how adding a few handfuls of walnuts to your daily diet can greatly improve your health.
As We See It: FDA Says Walnuts Are Illegal Drugs
Life Extension has published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts.
Some of this same scientific data was featured on the website of Diamond Foods, Inc., a distributor of packaged walnuts.
Last year the FDA determined that walnuts sold by Diamond Foods cannot be legally marketed because the walnuts are not generally recognized as safe and effective” for the medical conditions referenced on Diamond Foods website.
According to the FDA, these walnuts were classified as drugs” and the “unauthorized health claims” cause them to become “misbranded”, thus subjecting them to government “seizure or injunction”.
Diamond Foods capitulated and removed statements about the health benefits of walnuts from its website.
Lets take a look at the science supporting the consumption of walnuts to see what the FDA censored…and what you can do to stop it in the future!
As We See It: Eating Walnuts Cuts Heart Disease Risk
Ingesting nuts used to be considered unhealthy because of their high fat content. This misconception has changed over the past 18 years as human studies have revealad sharply reduced incidence of heart disease in those who consume walnuts.
Unlike some nuts, walnuts unsaturated fatty acids (including omega-3s), along with nutrients like gamma-tocoherol thata have demonstrated heart health benefits.
The March 4, 1993, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine published the first clinical study showing significant reductions in dangerous LDL and improvement in the lipoprotein profile in response to moderate consumption of walnuts. Later studies revealed that walnuts improve endothelia function in ways that are independent of cholesterol reduction.
One study published by the American Heart Association journal Circulation on April 6, 2004, showed a 64% improvement in a measurement of endoethelial function when walnuts were substituted for other fats in a Mediterranean diet.
As most Life Extension members are aware, the underlying cause of atherosclerosis is progressive endothelial dysfunction. Walnuts contain a variety of nutrients including arginine, polyphenols, and omega-3s that support the inner arterial lining and guard against abnormal platelet aggregation. These favorable biological effects explain why walnut consumption confers protection against coronary artery diseaese.
The US National Library of Medicine database contains no fewer than 34 peer-reviewed published papers supporting a claim that ingesting walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce heart attack risk.
FDA: Ignores The Science
The Federal agency responsible for protecting the health of the American public views this differently.
On our website, we reprint the FDA’s entire warning letter to Diamond Foods. No where in this bureaucratic albatross is there any discussion of the science cited by health claims.
Instead, the FDA’s language resembles that of an out-of-control police state where tyranny reins over rationality. To enabe you to recognize the absurdity of all of this, I excerpted a few paragraphs from the FDA’s warning letter to Diamond Foods starting on the next column.
This verbiage maes t clear that the FDA does not even consider the underlying science when censoring truthful, non-misleading health claims. The chilling effect on the ability of consumers to discover lifesaving medical information is a wake-up call for all who ecognize the ramification of this latest act of FDA malfeasance.
What The FDA Allows You To Hear:
The number of people logging on to the website of Diamond Foods was miniscule. I suspect that before the FDA took this draconian action, hardly anyone even knew this website existed.
What the public hears loud and clear, however, are endless advertisements for artery-clogging junk foods. Fast food chains relentlessly promote their 99-cent double-cheese burger as being bigger than their rivals. These advertisements induce many consumers to salivate for these toxic calories that are a contributing cause of coronary artery disease. Yet the FDA does not utter a peep in suggesting that their advertising be curtailed.
On the contrary, the FDA has issued waves of warning letters to companies making foods (pomegranate juice, green tea, and walnuts) that protect against atherosclerosis. The FDA is blatantly demanding that these companies stop informing the public about the scientifically validated health benefits these foods provide.
The FDA obviously does not want the public to discover that they can reduce their risk of age-related disease by consuming healthy food. They prefer consumers only learn about mass-marketed garbage foods that shorten life span by increasing degenerative disease risk.
Walnuts are the edible seeds of any tree among the genus Juglans. Walnut trees have been cultivated for thousands of years, with the three main species consisting of the English (or Persian) walnuts, the black walnut, and the white walnut. The English walnut is the most widely consumed type of walnut in the United States. It originated in India and the regions surrounding the Caspian Sea. Ancient Romans introduced the walnut to many European countries, where in turn they were brought to North America via English merchant ships, hence earning the moniker, “English walnuts”. Presently, China is the largest producer of walnuts in the world, with the United States in the world, with the United States following close behind.
Benefits: Cognitive Function
The Doctrine of Signatures is an old-fashioned philosophy that states that a food’s appearance can tell us what part of the body its nutrients are good for. While this is more of an old wives tale in many instances, in the case of the walnut, it holds some water. For instance, a cracked whole walnut looks much like the human brain, and it so happens that walnuts can be used to treat brain injuries and enhance cognitive function, which is why it’s referred to as a “brain food”. The reason they are so good for your brain health is the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain consists of more than 60% structural fat, and for the brain cells to function properly, omega-3 fats need to be a primary component. The American diet is almost devoid of all omega-3s, with researchers finding that about two-thirds of Americans are deficient in omega -3 fatty acids.
A study done at Purdue University has shown that children with a lower concentration of omega-3 fatty acids have a higher risk of being hyperactive, have learning disorders, and displaying behavioral problems. There have been hundreds of scientific studies signifying a variety of problems linked to omega-3 deficiencies.
All in the Family:
While walnuts may be the healthiest nuts on the planet, many other nuts can be extremely beneficial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Almonds – Almonds provide many health benefits and are most beneficial to keeping your heart healthy by reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering your cholesterol.
Pecans – Pecans are loaded with antioxidants that contribute to lowering your blood pressure as well as helping to prevent the onset of breast and prostate cancer.
Hazelnuts – The extremely high amount of vitamin E found in hazelnuts, one of the best natural sources, helps yoaur body form red blood cells, muscles, and other tissues.
Pistachios – Pistachios are a low calorie nut promoting heart health, They contain two unique carotenoids not found in other nuts. These are protective antioxidants associated with eye health and reduction of the risk for developing age-related macular degeneration.
The most in-depth aspect of walnut nutritional research has been the benefits for the heart and circulatory system. They have had a very favorable impact on vascular reactivity, which is the ability of our blood vessels to respond to stimuli in a healthy way. Walnuts contain high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is major contributor to heart health by thinning the blood; reducing risks of clots or heart attacks. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the heart health benefits of walnuts on 365 participants who were monitored during control diets and diets supplemented with walnuts. Results showed a significantly greater decrease in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
In a study conducted at the Lipid Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, 21 men and women with high cholesterol were given a regular low-calorie diet or one where one-third of the monounsaturated fats were replaced with walnuts. After 4 weeks, the participants switched to the other diet. Along with the reduced levels of cholesterol, the walnuts were found to increase the elasticity of the arteries by 64% and to reduce levels of vascular cell adhesion, a key player in the development of atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries.
Seeing that there are such high amounts of antioxidants and nutrients found in walnuts, its no surprise that research has shown that eating walnuts can help against cancer. A form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol, found in high abundance in walnuts, has been found to help fight breast, prostate, and lung cancer. Also, walnuts reduce the levels of endothelin, a compound that increases blood vessel inflammation. Men with prostate cancer are known to have higher levels of endothelin, prompting further research into the relationship between walnuts and prostate cancer.
A recent study at the University of California-Davis examined the effects of walnuts on prostate cancer in mice. Scientists fed a diet of walnuts to mice with prostate cancer, and after 18 weeks they found that the mice who consumed a human equivalent of 2.4 ounces a day had much smaller, slower-growing tumors, reducing cancer growth by 40%.
The omega-3 fatty acids along with phytosterols in walnuts have been proven to help curb breast cancer tumor growth. According to researcher W. Elaine Hardman, PhD, from the Marshall University of Medicine, Phytosterols bind to estrogen receptors, so they would be expected to slow the growth of breast cancers”. In a study done by Hardman, one group of mice was fed a daily diet that included the equivalent of 2 ounces of walnuts in humans, while another group was fed a regular diet. The mice that ate the walnuts had a much lower incidence of breast tumors, slowing the growth by half.
Consumption of walnuts has increasingly been found to help people with type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that daily walnut provides significant benefits in different measurements of blood vessel functioning. A study at Yale University took 24 adults with type 2 diabetes and had each consume 2 ounces of walnuts to go along with their regular diet. After 8 weeks, blood flow and endothelial function, which is a powerful predictor of cardiovascular risk, significantly improved.
Protecting Bone Health:
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the omega-3 fat found in walnuts, and it has demonstrated a remarkable ability to promote bone health. In a study done by researchers at Penn State University, 23 participants were fed 4 different diets over 6-week periods, one of which was a high-ALA diet. After each segment of the study, the the subjects were tested for levels of N-telopeptides, a marker of bone breakdown. Findings showed that in the diet consisting of high levels of ALA, the N-telopeptides, a marker of bone breakdown. Findings showed that in the diet consisting of high levels of ALA, the N-telopeptides count was much lower.
Despite the variety of health benefits walnuts seem to offer, many people stay clear of them due to a fear of gaining weight. In fact, studies have shown that those fears are groundless and eating walnuts actually help as a great tool for weight management. In 2001, Loma Linda University conducted a study which found that regular walnut consumption did not lead to weight gain amongst their participants. The study consisted of 10 men who suffered from high cholesterol. Over a six week period, the men whose diets included walnuts showed a 6% decrease in LDL cholesterol.
CAUTION: While walnuts provide documented health benefits, they are very high in calories. This means you should incorporate walnuts into your normal meals and not use them as snacks. If one intentionally eats walnuts in the form of excess calories, it could sabotage at weight management program. The best way to benefit from walnuts is to substitute them for other calories so your total daily calorie intake is not increased.