Regular consumption of walnuts in older adults may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the concentration of certain inflammatory biomarkers, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Chronic inflammation is a critical factor in the development and progression of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque or hardening of the arteries, the principal cause of heart attacks and stroke.
The severity of atherosclerosis depends greatly on chronic inflammation, and dietary and lifestyle changes are key to mitigating this process.
“Acute inflammation is a physiological process due to activation of the immune system by injury such as trauma or infection, and is an important defense of the body,” said Dr. Emilio Ros, a researcher at the Universitat de Barcelona.
“Short-term inflammation helps us heal wounds and fight infections, but inflammation that persists overtime (chronic), caused by factors such as poor diet, obesity, stress and high blood pressure, is damaging instead of healing, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular health.”
Dr. Ros and colleagues hypothesized that incorporating walnuts into the usual diet would improve inflammatory biomarkers.
They assessed changes in circulating inflammatory molecules in the WAHA (Walnuts And Healthy Aging) randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate walnut effects on age-related health outcomes in 708 healthy elders (63 to 79 years of age).
The participants consumed 30 to 60 grams of walnuts per day as part of their typical diet or followed their standard diet (without walnuts) for two years.
Those who consumed walnuts had a significant reduction in inflammation, measured by the concentration of known inflammatory markers in the blood, which were reduced by up to 11.5%.
Of the 10 well-known inflammatory markers that were measured in the study, six were significantly reduced on the walnut diet, including interleukin-1β, a potent pro-inflammatory cytokine which pharmacologic inactivation has been strongly associated with reduced rates of coronary heart disease.
The researchers think that the anti-inflammatory effects of walnuts provide a mechanistic explanation for cardiovascular disease reduction beyond cholesterol lowering.
“Our findings suggest walnuts are one food that may lessen chronic inflammation, which could help to reduce the risk for heart disease, a condition we become more susceptible to as we age,” Dr. Ros said.
“Walnuts have an optimal mix of essential nutrients, like the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and other highly bioactive components, like polyphenols, that likely play a role in their anti-inflammatory effect and other health benefits.”
Montserrat Cofán et al. 2020. Effects of 2-Year Walnut-Supplemented Diet on Inflammatory Biomarkers. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 76 (19): 2282-2284; doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.07.071
Source link: https://www.sci.news/medicine/walnut-rich-diet-risk-cardiovascular-disease-09038.html