Heart attack is one of the main causes of mortality in both women and men around the world. An acute incident usually indicates pain, pressure, and discomfort in the chest. Subsequently, it needs medical attention on an emergency basis. Recently, researchers have pointed out how certain foods can defend our bodies against some life-threatening health conditions, such as stroke and heart attack.
Statistics of the heart disease
Over four out of every five deaths from heart disease are due to stroke and heart attack. Among all the deaths, about one-third are premature deaths happening in people under 70 years of age. An estimated 5,800 “additional” cardiovascular deaths have been reported in the first year of the pandemic when healthcare professionals mainly focused on treating patients with COVID-19 infection. Therefore, the epidemic stressed the need for better precautions. A new study examined the benefits of nuts for heart health. It has recognized how a single nut can specifically reduce the risk of a heart attack.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is made up of a variety of transport molecules. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) has the highest cholesterol and is closely linked to heart disease.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood that comes from two sources:
- First, some cholesterol is produced naturally from the liver.
- Second, something comes from the food.
Sometimes cholesterol can also be “Good’, which our body needs to function properly. For example, our body uses this healthy cholesterol to grow cells, process, digest fats, and produce hormones. However, if blood cholesterol is too high, it increases stroke or heart attack risk.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol has two major types that are as follows:
- LDL cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein
- HDL cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol
1. LDL cholesterol
Sometimes LDL cholesterol is called ‘bad cholesterol. If our body has so much LDL cholesterol, it accumulates in the arteries (the blood vessels carrying oxygen and blood around the whole body).
Elevated cholesterol level results in a build-up of hard fat lumps called plaque on the walls of the arteries. Consequently, it can rupture or block arteries and even could cause strokes and heart attacks.
2. HDL cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is also called ‘good cholesterol. It is because it acts as a cleaner in our body and takes part in removing LDL cholesterol. It takes LDL away from the arteries towards the liver. In the liver, it breaks down and is utilized by our body.
Changeable risk factors:
Some changeable risk factors can help you to maintain the risk for stroke and heart attack by lowering the cholesterol level:
- 1. Overeating saturated fats, such as cream, butter, red meat, and other dairy products.
- 2. Not being active enough every day
- 3. Eating lots of foods that are high in sugar, such as white bread, sweets, fizzy drinks, and baked goods
- 4. Smoking
- 5. Consuming too much alcohol
- 6. Being overweight, especially in the middle age
Unchangeable risk factors:
Some risk factors are unchangeable that impact the cholesterol level, such as:
- 1. Family history
- 2. Age
- 3. Biological gender (whether you are female or male)
- 4. Other health conditions, such as hypothyroidism and kidney or liver disease.
Eat heart-healthy food
By improving your eating habits, you can make a big variation in your body’s cholesterol levels.
Avoid foods that have a high level of saturated fats, such as:
- 1. Cakes
- 2. Pies
- 3. Chips
And eat a range of heart-healthy foods, such as:
- 1. Fruits and vegetables
- 2. Whole grains
- 3. Oily fish
- 4. Nuts and seeds
Medical conditions caused by high cholesterol
Few medical conditions related to high cholesterol that family go through, including:
- 1. Familial hyperlipidemia or high lipid level
- 2. Familial hypertriglyceridemia or high triglyceride levels
- 3. Familial hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol level
Regular eating of a handful of walnuts could lower “bad” cholesterol level
The study suggested that healthy adults who regularly ate a handful of walnuts for two years were found to have a lower “bad” cholesterol level. The study involved about 708 healthy participants who were at the adult age and independently lived.
Emilio Rose is a co-author of the study. He is also a director of the Lipid Clinic at the Endocrinology and Nutrition Service in the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain. According to her, previous studies have found that walnuts in particular and nuts, in general, are related to a reduced rate of stroke and heart disease.
Nuts cause to lower the LDL cholesterol level
When we talk about the reasons, reducing LDL cholesterol levels is one of the reasons behind the lower rate of stroke and heart attack. Another reason is that these nuts could also improve the LDL quality. Researchers further added that LDL is a fine particle that comes in several sizes. Furthermore, dense and small-sized LDL is mainly linked to atherosclerosis. It is the fatty deposition or plaque buildup in the arteries.
Rose said that this study is beyond the LDL cholesterol level to see a whole picture of all the lipoproteins and effects of walnuts eating on their ability to increase the risk of heart disease.
A cup of walnuts can lower the total cholesterol level as well
Researchers categorized the participants into two groups. One group ate half a cup of walnuts regularly in their daily diet. On the other hand, the volunteers of the control group avoided eating walnuts.
After two years, the researchers examined the cholesterol levels of all participants and their lipoprotein size to determine their risk of heart disease.
The results showed an average of 4.3 mg/dL decreased in the LDL cholesterol in participants who are walnuts regularly for two years. But, on the other hand, it also reduced the total cholesterol in this group by an average of 8.5 mg/dL.
Furthermore, it also showed that daily walnuts eating reduced small LDL particles by 6.1% and LDL levels by 4.3%. Thus, the changes in composition and concentration of LDL particles are linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Gender has a notable effect in lowering the cholesterol level
Moreover, the reduction in LDL levels among the participants eating walnuts varied according to their gender. For example, researchers found that KDK cholesterol fell by 7.9 percent in men, while it fell by 2.6 percent in women.
Dr. Rose further said that they did not significantly reduce LDL cholesterol levels in this study. Still, the most important thing is that all the participants were relatively healthy at the beginning of the study, having no major non-communicable diseases.
However, as expected in an older population, about 50% of the participants treated high hypercholesterolemia and blood pressure in this study.
She said thanks to statin treatment in 32% because the average cholesterol level was normal for all the participants during this study.
Walnuts cannot cause weight gain
She suggested that lowering LDL cholesterol after eating a nut-enriched diet may be much higher for people with high blood pressure.
Eating some walnuts in a day is the simplest way to improve heart health. However, at the same time, people also worry about undesirable weight gain when they incorporate nuts into their diet. To answer this question, she said that walnuts have some healthy fats that do not cause weight gain even if people eat them daily.
How to reduce cholesterol levels through other methods
- 1. Supplements
- 2. Vitamins
- 3. Natural remedies
- 4. Complementary therapies
Healthy tips to lower cholesterol
Here are some healthy that can prevent you from being overweight:
- 1. Using the stairs and avoiding the lift
- 2. Getting off the bus a stop early or parking a few kilometers away from the office or
- 3. Instead of once walking twice around the park
- 4. Walking outside while taking a break at work
- 5. Swimming or walking at the beach with family
- 6. Spending half an hour of cleaning or gardening
Cardiovascular disease is a global health issue that affects both men and women. Therefore, it needs to be controlled. However, a new study suggested that several foods could defend our bodies against stroke and heart attack.
According to this study, eating a handful of walnuts could lower “bad” cholesterol levels. However, the effects are not remarkable. It works by reducing the LDL cholesterol level that is also called bad cholesterol.
In addition to this, walnuts also improve LDL quality. The finding also suggested that a cup of walnuts could also lower the total cholesterol level. Research further found that the gender of an individual also influences lowering the KDK cholesterol level. One of the crucial findings of this study is that it suggested that walnuts contain some healthy fats that do not contribute to weight gain.
Although this study does not show a notable effect, it may be helpful to prevent acute incidents.