LOMA LINDA, Calif., April 13 /CNW/ -- Loma Linda University research just
published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compares the effects
of walnuts and fatty fish in the fight against heart disease, demonstrating
that in healthy individuals, walnuts lower cholesterol more than fish, while
fatty fish lower triglycerides. Both can reduce the overall risk of coronary
"The practical significance of the study is that eating an
easy-to-incorporate amount of walnuts and fatty fish can cause meaningful
decreases in blood cholesterol and triglycerides even in healthy individuals,"
says lead author Sujatha Rajaram, Ph.D., associate professor in the department
of nutrition at Loma Linda University School of Public Health.
Following the qualified health claim issued by the Food and Drug
Administration, researchers found that incorporating approximately 1.5 ounces
of walnuts (42 grams, a handful of whole nuts or about three tablespoons of
chopped nuts) into the daily diet lowered serum total cholesterol by 5.4
percent and LDL (bad) cholesterol by 9.3 percent compared to a control diet
based on USDA recommendations.
Using American Heart Association guidelines, the researchers also found
that a diet including two servings of fatty fish per week (roughly four ounces
each as recommended by the AHA for individuals without heart disease)
decreased triglyceride levels by 11.4 percent. Additionally, it increased HDL
(good) cholesterol by 4 percent, but also slightly increased LDL (bad)
cholesterol compared to the control diet. The fish used in this study was
"Both plant- and marine-derived omega-3 fats are cardioprotective, and
since they seem to be effective for lowering different risk factors, it would
be prudent to include both in the diet," says Joan Sabate, M.D., DrPH, one of
the authors of the study and chair of the department of nutrition.
Dr. Rajaram adds, "Individuals should strive to include a plant source of
omega-3 fat in their diet, like walnuts, and also a marine source of omega-3
fat. If fatty fish is not a preferred option for marine-derived omega-3 fat,
other options include microalgae oil or DHA-enriched eggs."
The department of nutrition has significant experience conducting tightly
controlled feeding studies among varying populations. This one, conducted with
a healthy population, is the fifth study testing the health and nutrition
properties of walnuts. This study differs from the previous studies in that it
compared a plant source of the omega-3 fatty acid with a marine source, the
first study to make this comparison. Subjects were randomly assigned to each
of the three diets for eight weeks over a 24-week feeding schedule. This gave
the researchers a chance to compare the effect of each diet on each
Loma Linda University is a health-science university in Southern
California known for its nutrition and lifestyle research in relation to
chronic diseases. For more information about the University please visit the
website www.llu.edu. To access the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
manuscript reference doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736S on the Internet.
Loma Linda University
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