As heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world, it’s never been so important to understand how to support our cardiovascular health. This week’s Nutrition News covers the very latest in nutritional research and studies covering heart health, including how walnuts can support this vital organ.
Read about the research here.
The health benefits of walnuts
Walnuts are not only delicious, but they also come with a plethora of health benefits, ranging from weight management to reducing inflammation. This video from Healthline looks at the benefits of walnuts and includes an easy to follow recipe to incorporate more of the super nut in your diet. Here are some of the reasons outlined in the video on why you should include these nuts into your diet:
Good for Heart Health
Walnuts contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have shown the potential to lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that eating just a handful of walnuts per day could improve blood vessel function and lower inflammation, both of which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
May Assist Weight Management
While walnuts are calorie-dense, studies have shown that people who incorporate walnuts into their diet tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and less belly fat. It is thought that this could be because walnuts are high in fibre, which helps keep you feeling full for longer, and the healthy fats in walnuts may help your body burn fat more efficiently.
Brain Health Support
The high omega-3 content is not only great for heart health but can also support cognitive health as well. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may improve cognitive function and help protect against age-related cognitive decline. Walnuts are also rich in antioxidants and other compounds that have been linked to improved brain function.
Inflammation is a major contributor to many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Walnuts may help protect against such conditions as they contain compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.
Antioxidants protect against damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. Walnuts are a great source of antioxidants, which, as a result, may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and slow down the ageing process.
In summary, walnuts are a delicious and nutritious addition to any diet. Eating just a handful of walnuts per day can provide numerous health benefits, including improved heart health, weight management, brain health, reduced inflammation, and antioxidant properties.
Heart healthy lifestyle linked to longer lifespan
Two new studies, as published in this Science Daily article on heart health, suggest that cardiovascular health is associated with longer life and lower risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and dementia.
In the studies, heart health is measured by the American Heart Association's Life's Essential 8 (LE8) cardiovascular health scoring. The first study looked at the association of Life's Essential 8 with life expectancy free of major chronic disease among 136,599 UK adults who did not have cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, or dementia at enrolment in the study. The second study focused on the association of Life's Essential 8 with total life expectancy among over 23,000 US adults who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The studies found that maintaining high cardiovascular health from midlife onwards helps to avoid chronic diseases such as cancer and dementia that develop later in life. Furthermore, people with ideal cardiovascular health lived longer and had a higher disease-free life expectancy.
These findings suggest that better heart health can improve life expectancy as well as reduce the risk of health conditions. While these findings are encouraging, it is important to note that the studies' limitations include the exclusion of e-cigarette information in the UK study and the need for further studies to confirm if the results are consistent among people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds but it should go some way towards motivating the wider public to look after their health and research heart support.
Women’s reproductive factors affect heart health
Over 60 million women in the US alone are living with some type of heart condition, with the reasons for cardiovascular issues ranging from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity to reproductive health. A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, reported by Healthline, has found a connection between women's reproductive history and heart health, suggesting that fertility and conception support could play a role in supporting cardiovascular health.
The study shows that earlier first birth, a higher number of live births, and starting periods at a younger age are all associated with an increased risk of heart complications in women. The researchers examined these reproductive factors and their connection to various heart conditions, which included atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke.
The physiological changes women experience throughout their lives also play a major role in heart health as these changes cause the body to be in a more inflammatory state and increase blood clotting. During pregnancy, the body is exposed to these changes for 9 months, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is only compounded with subsequent additional pregnancies.
Women should be aware of both traditional cardiovascular risk factors (obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) and female-specific risk factors such as those outlined in this article to protect their overall health. Further research is required to learn more about the relationship between reproductive health and heart health but this study acts as a strong indication of the importance of this research.
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Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.