Recent research has shown that Walnuts, which are already known to be beneficial in lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) may also help to restore elasticity in damaged arteries. A healthy artery is elastic i.e. if the amount of blood flow through the artery increases (as may happen when the heart beats faster) it is capable of expanding. However, if the artery gets damaged it becomes rigid and hence cannot expand in response to an increased blood flow. As a result the body may not receive adequate oxygen rich blood, which it needs.
According to researchers, walnuts are rich in monounsaturated fats (a healthy type of fat) that are known to increase the HDL (or good cholesterol) levels and decrease the LDL cholesterol levels in blood. The study also indicated that not only some isolated constituent of walnut but walnut as a whole helps in slowing the progress of atherosclerosis and improve heart health. Walnuts appear to prevent atherosclerosis by reducing the number of harmful cells that can stick to artery walls.
The researchers suggest that walnut appears to help arteries dilate if it is eaten as a part of a healthy Mediterranean diet i.e. diet rich in fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds; using olive oil which is an important monounsaturated fat source; taking low to moderate amounts of dairy products, fish and poultry and consuming eggs 0-4 times in a week.
The studies also indicate that walnut is a rich source of one of the omega 3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid, which appears to improve the elasticity of the arteries.