Each year, more than 600,000 people (that’s 1 in every 4) die from heart disease in the United States . Since high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking are the key factors for heart disease- about half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors! While some factors are genetic, other risk factors can be altered by making active lifestyle choices and adopting a heart-healthy diet that includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts.
Dr. Michael Roizen, M.D. Institute Chair, Chief Wellness Officer Wellness Institute Cleveland Clinic encourages readers to include more omega-3’s in their diet. “Eating a handful of walnuts a day is a delicious way to promote a healthy heart. Walnuts offer antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, protein and the only nut providing a significant amount of the plant based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).” There are over two decades of research supporting the heart health properties of walnuts. In fact, due to the wealth of evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a qualified health claim for walnuts, one of the first for a whole food.
Considering the heart-health benefits of walnuts, it’s not surprising that a walnut split perfectly in half resembles a heart - a true token of love. This month’s Valentine’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to suggest to your clients that they test their hand (and their heart) at designing a heart-healthy menu for their special someone - one that’s rich in omega-3’s! Perhaps try a delicious and homemade dinner with Crunchy Walnut Crusted Salmon and Brown and Wild Rice with Walnuts and Cranberries, with a bite-size Pear Cranberry Tart for dessert and a romantic stroll after dinner. We are sure this delicious and “heart-y” meal will bring joy and contentment to dining companions. If not…then he/she is just plain “nuts”!
 CDC. Million Hearts: strategies to reduce the prevalence of leading cardiovascular disease risk factors. United States, 2011. MMWR2011;60(36):1248–51.
 Vinson, JA, Cai, Y. Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits Food Funct., 2012; 3;3(2): 134-140
 2.5 grams of ALA per handful
 “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”