Latest Research Shows Walnuts May Lower Cholesterol and Increase Longevity
The research on the role of diet and heart health continues to evolve, and while heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S.,1 there are steps that people can take to improve their overall health and well-being. In a new, first-of-its-kind study to explore the effects of a walnut-enriched diet on overall cholesterol in elderly individuals, researchers found an association between regular daily walnut consumption and sustained lower levels of cholesterol including a 15 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.2,^ This study was conducted over two years and involved over 700 participants between the ages of 63 and 79 who were healthy, independent-living adults residing in Barcelona, Spain, and Loma Linda, California.
Researchers went beyond LDL cholesterol and looked at all types of lipoproteins. One ½ cup serving of walnuts a day made a positive effect on lipoproteins, including a reduction in the number of total LDL particles by 4.3% and small LDL particles by 6.1% as well as a decrease in Intermediate Density Lipoprotein (IDL) cholesterol (16.9%). Additional findings reinforce the notion that regular walnut consumption may be a useful part of a heart-healthy eating pattern – participants that completed the study ate ½ cup of walnuts every day and did not gain weight. It is important to note, study participants had the option to eat a variety of other foods in addition to walnuts. Further investigation is needed in more diverse and disadvantaged populations. Read more about California walnuts and heart health.
Additionally, new research3,^ from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and published in Nutrients found that participants who reported eating five or more servings of walnuts per week had a 14% lower risk of death (from any cause), 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases, and a gain of about 1.3 years of life expectancy compared to participants who reported no walnut consumption. Study participants included over 67,000 women of the Nurses’ Health Study (1998–2018) and some 26,000 men of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1998–2018). Both groups were on average around 63 years old and free of cancer, heart disease, and stroke at baseline. Participants self-reported nut intake via food frequency questionnaires (FFQs), which were completed every four years. As a prospective observational study, these results do not prove cause and effect, but they do shed light on how walnuts may support an overall healthy lifestyle that promotes longevity. Learn more.