Evidence suggests that cardiovascular disease is caused by endothelial dysfunction. This means that the lining of arteries do not respond correctly to the flow of blood because they lose elasticity. This is likely because the nitric oxide content of the endothelial tissue becomes depressed through the action of free radicals. Inflammation can exacerbate this problem because systemic inflammation depletes the body of antioxidants that can combat free radicals.
Walnuts Protect The Endothelium
Nuts are beneficial to the health. This may be because of the high nutrient content of nuts. Studies suggest that those who consume walnuts regularly are protected from cardiovascular disease. The exact reason for this is not clear, but nuts contain a number of nutrients that explains their cardioprotective effects. In particular, walnuts are rich sources of essential omega 3 fatty acids and are also rich in antioxidants.
Walnuts Contain Antioxidants
Walnuts are a rich source of antioxidants. Ellagic acid is one antioxidant in walnuts that is bioavailable in humans. The antioxidants in walnuts may protect from cardiovascular disease because they can inhibit free radical formation in the endothelial tissue of the arteries. This increases nitric oxide production which in turn improves the way the arteries respond elastically to normal blood pressure and blood flow.
Walnuts Contain Essential Fatty Acids
As well as being rich in antioxidants, walnuts also contain omega 3 essential fatty acids. The omega 3 essential fatty acids are beneficial to the health because they can reduce tissue inflammation. Cardiovascular disease is associated with inflammation and evidence suggests that this inflammation damages the endothelium of arteries. The essential fatty acids and antioxidants in walnuts may therefore both protect the endothelial lining of arteries.
Walnuts Inhibit Platelet Aggregation
Heart attacks occur when platelet aggregation causes blood clots, because these clots can become trapped in the coronary arteries of the heart. Platelet aggregation is a necessary step in this process and stress and poor diet contribute to sticky platelets. Walnuts can inhibit platelet aggregation because of the omega 3 fatty acids they contain. These omega 3 fatty acids inhibit the cellular pathways that cause platelet aggregation, preventing heart attacks.
Walnuts Are Markers For A Healthy Diet
Another reason that walnuts may be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease is because they may indicate a healthy diet. Generally, those consuming walnuts are more likely to be consuming other foods that are beneficial to the health. Walnuts are part of a healthy diet, and healthy diets are cardioprotective. Healthy diets including nuts inhibit inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and decrease body fat, which protects from cardiovascular disease.