Walnuts Decrease Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Summary of Efficacy and Biologic Mechanisms

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Background

Given the pressing need to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality, there has been a focus on optimizing dietary patterns to reduce the many contributing risk factors. Over the past 2 decades, many studies have been conducted that have evaluated the effects of walnut consumption on CVD risk factors. Walnuts have been shown to decrease low density lipoprotein cholesterol (by ∼9–16%) and blood pressure (diastolic blood pressure by ∼2–3 mm Hg), 2 major risk factors for CVD. In addition, walnuts improve endothelial function, decrease both oxidative stress and some markers of inflammation, and increase cholesterol efflux. The effect of walnuts on multiple CVD targets over relatively short periods of time supports recommendations for their inclusion in a heart-healthy diet.