Wellness Database: Nuts
Nuts are an important and healthy part of any balanced diet. They are a great source of many nutrients and may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and other conditions. Nuts are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet
Walnuts May Help Reasoning Ability
Summary: In this study, the authors sought to determine the effects of walnuts on verbal and non-verbal reasoning, memory, and mood. College students (n=64) were randomly assigned to two treatment sequences in a crossover fashion: walnuts-placebo or placebo-walnuts. Baseline data were collected for non-verbal reasoning, verbal reasoning, memory and mood states. Data were collected again after 8 weeks of intervention. After 6 weeks of washout, the intervention groups followed the diets in reverse order. Data were collected once more at the end of the 8-week intervention period. No significant increases were detected for mood, non-verbal reasoning or memory in the walnut-supplemented diet, however, inferential verbal reasoning increased significantly by 11.2 %. The authors conclude that in healthy young adults, walnuts may have the ability to increase inferential reasoning.
Dr. Louis Ignarro: NO-Boosting Nutrition
Perhaps the best way to boost Nitric Oxide levels in the body is to have a diet focused on NO-friendly foods. The basic nutrients required to boost NO levels can be found in many common, delicious, and healthy foods. An NO-boosting diet can be used instead of regular supplementation, but the very best results come from supplementing a diet that is rich in antioxidants and amino acids.
What To Eat
Here are some of the basic types of food that are beneficial and even necessary for boosting Nitric Oxide levels. This is not a comprehensive list, but it should be enough to get on the right track.
Foods Rich in Antioxidants and Polyphenols: Almost all fruit and vegetables such as blueberries, cranberries, carrots, grapefruit, soybeans, apples, and spinach contain high levels of antioxidants. In addition, nuts, tea, seeds, dark chocolate, red wine, and seafood generally contain plenty of antioxidants.
Foods Rich in Arginine and Citrulline: The two most vital nutrients to NO production are these amino acids which can be found in red meat, nuts, soy, salmon, dark chocolate, and watermelon.
Foods Rich in Protein: Eggs, nuts, soybeans, and seafood are great, healthy sources of protein.
Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, seeds and nuts, and heart healthy fats all contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids which improve cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Heart-Healthy Fats: Canola oil, sesame oil, and most importantly olive oil. Olive oil is an extremely healthy fat and is an essential part of the highly nutritious Mediterranean Diet.
What To Avoid
It is best to avoid foods containing saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol.
Saturated fats: Saturated fats and processed differently from monounsaturates and polyunsaturates. Elevated intake of saturated fats creates an elevated level of the undesirable LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol contributes to plaque formation on artery walls, damaging the body’s ability to produce Nitric Oxide. Foods high in saturated fats include fatty meat and dairy products such as whole milk, pork, lamb, and veal.
Trans fats: Trans fats also raise LDL cholesterol. This is a result of a manufacturing process in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. Foods high in trans fats include cookies, crackers, pastries, butter, potato chips, and French fries.
Dietary Cholesterol: Organ meats such as liver and processed meats like hot dogs and salami have elevated levels of dietary cholesterol which contributes to LDL cholesterol.
Keys to Remember
- By reducing your intake of saturated fat, you will protect your endothelium and its ability to manufacture Nitric Oxide.
- Fish and other foods with Omega-3 Fatty Acids help to reduce oxidation which facilitates Nitric Oxide production.
- Foods rich in antioxidants such as colorful fruits and vegetables prevent the formation of oxygen radicals, reducing oxidative stress and increasing the efficacy of Nitric Oxide.
- Junk food and fast food often contains saturated and trans fat which inhibits the formation of Nitric Oxide.
Learn more about foods to seek and foods to avoid for healthy Nitric Oxide production by purchasing the best-selling book, NO More Heart Disease.
Eating Mixed Nuts May Reduce DNA Damage
In a randomized, controlled study involving 50 metabolic syndrome (MetS) patients, results indicate that nut consumption may significantly reduce DNA damage. The subjects received a healthy diet with or without 30 g of mixed nuts daily for 12 weeks. During intervention, a significant reduction in DNA damage was observed in the mixed nuts group, compared with the control group. Additionally, no significant differences were found between the groups in plasma antioxidant capacity, oxidized LDL, conjugated diene formation, 8-isoprostanes or endothelial function. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, "Nut consumption has no deleterious effect on lipid oxidation. The decrease in DNA damage observed in this study could contribute to explain the beneficial effects of regular nut consumption on some MetS features and several chronic diseases."
"Effect of nut consumption on oxidative stress and the endothelial function in metabolic syndrome," Lopez-Uriarte P, Salas-Salvado J, et al, Clin Nutr, 2010 Jan 9.
Nut Consumption May Improve Heart Health Indicators
In a pooled analysis of 25 nut consumption studies involving 583 men and women with normolipidemia and hypercholesterolemia who were not taking lipid-lowering medications, results indicate that nut consumption may improve lipid profiles in a dose-dependent manner. A mean daily consumption of 67 g of nuts was associated with a 5.1% mean reduction in total cholesterol concentration, a 7.4% mean reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (LDL-C), and a 5.6% mean reduction in ratio of LDL-C to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (HDL-C). Additionally, subjects with blood triglyceride levels of at least 150 mg/dL showed a 10.2% mean decrease in blood triglyceride levels. Lastly, the lipid-lowering effects of nut consumption was found to be strongest in subjects with high baseline LDL-C and subjects with low BMI (body mass index). Thus, the authors of this study conclude, "Nut consumption improves blood lipid levels in a dose-related manner, particularly among subjects with higher LDL-C or with lower BMI."
"Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials," Sabate J, Ros E, et al, Arch Intern Med, 2010; 170(9): 821-7.
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Nutrients and Diet
Alpha Lipoic Acid Amino Acids Antioxidants Arginine Calcium Carnitine Carotene Chromium Picolinate Citrulline Coenzyme Q10 DHEA Fat Fiber Fruit and Vegetables Garlic Ginkgo Biloba Glucosamine Vegetarian Diet Green Tea Iron Lutein Lycopene Magnesium Mediterranean Diet Multivitamins Nitric Oxide Nuts Olives Omega 3 Fatty Acids Policosanols Polyphenols Pomegranate Probiotics Pycnogenol Red Yeast Rice Salt Saffron Selenium Soy Theanine Vitamin A Vitamin B Vitamin C Vitamin D Vitamin E Vitamin K White Tea Zinc