Walnuts May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

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Eating walnuts may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of "bad" cholesterol, report scientists at the University of California in Davis. Researchers studied volunteers, age 60 on average, who had high levels of cholesterol in their blood. Walnuts are rich sources of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known to lower blood cholesterol levels. When volunteers included two to three walnuts per 1,850 dietary calories to their normal daily diets, they reduced blood levels of "bad" cholesterol by 27 percent. "Bad" cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, can form harmful deposits in blood vessels that can block blood flow and increase heart disease risk. Walnuts also lowered blood levels of "bad" cholesterol when accompanying low-fat diets, by roughly 7 percent. None of the volunteers gained weight during the walnut diets. The researchers presented their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.