Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nuts to you - and your heart too

We spend a lot of time posting about what's bad for your heart. At one point we posted a list of what's good including black chocolate especially the darker ones. As we write, the research on nutriceuticals (food substances with pharmaceutical value) continues unabated, helping us to know what food is good for us.

Medical evidence-wise, we know that wine is obviously good for the heart, fish oils are good, vegetable oils or polyunsaturated oils are good, olive oils (mono-saturated) are good. As for garlic, vitamin C, vitamin E, soya oil and soy products, hyper-oxygenated water, and ginko-biloba, the medical evidence is rather flimsy.

Now for the nuts. There are nuts and there are nuts. Walnuts are getting alot of medical attention and it would appear that the balance of medical evidence is that walnuts are good for the heart. This was again documented by Cortés B, Núñez I, Cofán M, et al. in an article published in the October 17th JACC, entitled "Acute effects of high-fat meals enriched with walnuts or olive oil on postprandial endothelial function".

The Spanish authors studied the effect of walnut consumption on endothelial function. They showed that after 4 weeks of walnuts, while on a mediteranean diet, endothelial function, as measured by ultrasound brachial artery flow, improved in those patients on the mediteranean plus walnut diet. The theory is that walnut contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, including the very important arginine (alpha-linolenic acid). Arginine is a precursor of the magic molecule nitric acid (a very potent arteriolar vaso-dilator). The Spanish authors postulated that as opposed to olive oil (which is cardio-protective), walnut seems to prevent the infammatory response that follow ingestion of saturated fats, and also vasodilates.

It would appear from their work that olive oils tend only to prevent the formation of pro-imflammatory molecules but does little in terms of vaso-dilation. One of the obvious pro-imflammatory molecules that walnut reduces is Selectin E. There were also some earlier work which showed that walnuts also reduces the formation of VCAM1, and maybe ICAM 1 too. It must be noted that the authors promotes that ingestion of fresh walnuts as cooked walnuts may not have all the required arginine. You don't need to eat a lot. Just 6-8 fresh walnuts per meal and it will have the required effect. About 4 weeks is what the study did to show a difference. Well maybe we should all go look for walnuts to munch, show we feel the urge to munch. Groundnuts are not bad, but walnuts are obviously better. I hope that the walnut merchants do read this blog or else they may increase the cost of already costly walnuts.

1 comment:

just me said...

There is this carrot cake recipe which has walnuts as one of its ingredients. Now I shall bake that cake more often!