New Delhi, November 15, 2018: According to Registrar General of India Report 2016, heart diseases such as blocked artery, pulmonary hypertension, and stroke are the leading cause of death in India. With cardiovascular diseases becoming a serious health concern, the role diet plays is a key factor in decreasing risk.

Outcomes from a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that blood biomarkers of plant and seafood-based omega-3s are associated with a modestly lower risk (up to 10 percent) of dying from heart attacks.(1) Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 19 studies to better understand how consumption of plant and seafood-based omega-3s are associated with risk of death from a heart attack, coronary heart disease (CHD), and sudden cardiac death. The 19 studies represented more than 45,000 individuals from 16 countries and looked at biomarkers of omega-3s, which, according to the researchers, are a more reliable way to measure the amount of omega-3s consumed than questionnaires that ask about eating habits. The median age of participants was 59 years, but the ages ranged from 18-97 years, with approximately 63% of the participants being male. The results of this globally-represented paper highlighted the importance of food choices not only on overall wellness, but also on specific illnesses such as heart disease.

Walnuts are the only nut to contain an excellent source of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA), offering 2.5 grams of ALA per 28 grams (approximately one-quarter cup). Therefore, it is suggested that a handful/28 grams of walnuts may be consumed everyday to have a healthy heart. For over two decades, walnuts have been shown to improve cardiovascular risk factors by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol by 9-16%, and diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 mmHg.(2) These two risk factors are major contributors to heart disease risk.

Commenting on this Dr. Vinayaga Pandian, Cardiologist, SRV Hospital said, “California Walnuts are an ideal choice for a balanced diet plan and may help to offset some of the grave health concerns faced by millions of Indians these days. There is enough research to support that daily intake of walnuts can reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases. Walnuts are the only nuts which contain a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid; a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid required by the human body for normal growth and development.”

As with any research, limitations should be considered. Since this was an observational study, residual confounding cannot be ruled out (i.e., other lifestyle habits that are common in adults who eat foods with omega-3s could contribute to the study findings) and direct cause and effect cannot be established. It is also possible that subjects may have misreported their dietary intake since this information was collected by questionnaires. Some biomarkers were not largely represented in the studies, which limited the references for these specific components. Relatively few studies were available for some lipid compartments (e.g., adipose, cholesterol esters), limiting inference for these specific compartments. All cohorts assessed omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid exposure once at baseline, and changes over time would attenuate findings toward the null, causing underestimation of associations. Reduced statistical power in quintile analyses and spline analyses made it difficult to ascertain the specific shape of dose responses.

Twenty-five years of research supported by California Walnut Commission has concluded that walnuts provide heart-health benefits and that they are one of the first whole foods to receive a qualified health claim about their heart-health benefits from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it is advised that this World Heart Day we vow to consume a handful/28 grams walnuts daily to stay heart-healthy!

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