Getting Wal-Nutty Over Plasma Lipids!

October 21, 2017

Every day, people in both the fitness community and in the general population are looking for that next superfood or that new hot supplement that will change their lives. At the same time, nutritional studies are constantly being published that show evidence one way or the other for all manner of foods and their ingredients. One food that has garnered much attention recently is walnuts. Although there has been a significant amount of data to show that nuts and other sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (MUFA/PUFA) fatty acids lead to better cardiac health, walnuts in particular seem to have a positive effect on lipid profiles. One recent study (linked below) even showed that adding walnuts to one's diet improved plasma lipid profiles independent of macronutrient replacement and nutrient timing! What makes walnuts so special? Well, let's look at what makes them different from some of our other favorite nuts...they sure do contain a large amount of linoleic acid! I guess we should all start supplementing with pure LA then! That'll fix our nationwide heart disease and hyperlipidemia epidemics, right?!? In the words of the great Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friends!" Nutritional science is tricky. Linoleic acid is an Omega-6 fatty acid, which is different from the Omega-3's we all know, love, and supplement. Omega-6's have actually been demonstrated to be pro-inflammatory and increase one's cardiac risk. Damn! So what's the deal with walnuts? Well, this is just another example of science showing us (especially in the realm of nutrition) that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Something about the combination of fatty acids and other micronutrients in walnuts, in addition to factors that we may not have discovered yet, improves plasma lipids, and thus, improves cardiac risk. Be careful before jumping on the bandwagon with specific components of foods that are made into supplements, and be just as careful looking for superfoods. EVERYTHING in science, with nutritional science being one of the best examples of this, is multifactorial. There is no silver bullet! Except for exercise. Do that. And fuel up for it with some walnuts (without screwing up your caloric balance, of course)!




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