SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 10, 2004 -- Walnuts are one of the most nutritious whole food sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Walnut consumption has been proven to significantly lower total cholesterol levels as well as LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels. Recently-published research also shows including walnuts in the diet can improve vascular function, which can aid in the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
Additional promising research from Penn State showing an ALA diet to improve vascular function was reported May 6 at the American Heart Association's 5th Annual Conference on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology in San Francisco. Lead author Sheila G. West, Ph.D. says, "Our findings suggest that the special kind of fatty acids that are present in walnuts can improve the function of arteries and allow them to dilate better."
Many researchers cite the special combination of nutrients in walnuts as accounting for these beneficial effects. In addition to providing a significant concentration of ALA, walnuts contain many vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, melatonin, L-arginine and several other important nutrients.
ALA is essential for optimal function of every cell in our bodies but since our bodies can't create this "good" fat, we have to get it from the foods we eat. The National Academy of Sciences recommends a daily intake of 1.6 and 1.1 grams of ALA for men and women respectively. With 2.5 grams of ALA, one ounce of walnuts more than fulfills this requirement.
Based on a decade of evidence supporting the health benefits of walnuts, the FDA affirmed a qualified health claim for walnuts (the first for a whole food) in March 2004.
The best news is how easy it is to enjoy walnuts as a snack or to incorporate them into any meal -- from breakfast to dessert. Consumers can request a free recipe and nutrition booklet by calling 1-800-758-2100, visiting www.walnuts.org or by writing to the Walnut Marketing Board: 'Mega Menu, 847 Sansome Street, Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94111.