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Keep Your Arteries Clear With Walnuts

Can a fistful of walnuts help keep the gunk out of your arteries?

Medically reviewed in August 2021

Many people understand the importance of a heart-healthy diet. Here’s a tip: Keep the gunk out of your heart pipes with a fistful of toasted walnuts.

A review of the literature shows that eating walnuts daily has the potential to drop LDL cholesterol—the bad, artery-clogging kind—by almost seven percent! The health benefits of walnuts are pretty powerful.

Sometimes you feel like a nut
In the meta-analysis of 13 different studies, eating about an ounce or more of walnuts daily—that's about 14 halves or a quarter cup of pieces—not only lowered LDL cholesterol significantly but also lowered total cholesterol by about five percent. And that's not all the health benefits of walnuts, say the researchers. They may also quiet inflammation and help relax and dilate blood vessels as well—two mechanisms that are super beneficial when it comes to cutting cardiovascular disease risk. Not to mention heart attack risk.

Why walnuts win
Just about any nut you choose to nibble on will be advantageous to a heart-healthy diet. But walnuts are great because they tend to have more polyunsaturated fatty acids compared with other nuts—especially heart-friendly alpha linolenic acid, which is thought to do a great job of stymieing plaque accumulation in arteries. And if you're worried that walnuts will pad your waistline, don't be. Just use them to replace less nutritious foods in your diet.

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