Walnuts and Heart Health

Each year, more than 600,000 people (that's 1 in every 4) die from heart disease in the United States [1]. Since high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking are the key factors for heart disease- about half[2] 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[3], vitamins, fiber, protein and the only nut providing a significant amount of the plant based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)[4]." 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.[5]

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"!



[1] http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm



[2] CDC. Million Hearts: strategies to reduce the prevalence of leading cardiovascular disease risk factors. United States, 2011. MMWR2011;60(36):1248–51.



[3] 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



[4] 2.5 grams of ALA per handful



[5] "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."