A two-year study of older adults has found how adding walnuts to the diet confers health benefits.

The new research, published in the American Heart Association peer-reviewed journal Circulation and funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, provided walnuts to half the nearly 700 participants while the others did not change their diets. After two years, the researchers found small reductions in LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol among those who ate the walnuts.

Lower levels of LDL are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In the study, researchers in California and Spain collaborated and found similar results in the two locations. But men in the walnut group showed greater reductions in LDL cholesterol, and the authors say this difference by sex requires further study before it can be confirmed.

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The study also found walnuts, with their heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, reduced IDL cholesterol, a marker independent of LDL that can also be a measure of cardiovascular risk.  

The Walnuts and Healthy Aging study is the “the largest and longest nut trial to date,” the authors wrote. They conclude that for older adults (the age of participants was 63-79 years old) “regular walnut consumption may be a useful part of a multicomponent dietary intervention” to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.  

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