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Walnuts Healthy Facts

January 2016

ABSTRACT California Walnut comm Health Research

Health Benefits of Polyphenols: An Exploration Beyond Their Lipid Profile

Claudia Sánchez-González & Maria Izquierdo-Pulido

Walnuts are commonly found in our diet and have been recognized for their nutritious properties for a long time. Traditionally, walnuts have been known for their lipid profile which has been linked to a wide array of biological properties and health-promoting effects. In addition to essential fatty acids, walnuts contain a variety of other bioactive compounds such as vitamin E and polyphenols. Among common foods and beverages, walnuts represent one of the most important sources of polyphenols, hence their effect over human health warrants attention. The main polyphenol in walnuts is pedunculagin, an ellagitannin. After consumption, ellagitannins are hydrolyzed to release ellagic acid, which is converted by gut microflora to urolithin A and other derivatives, such as urolithins B, C and D. Ellagitannins possess well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bioactivity and several studies have assessed the potential role of ETs against disease initiation and progression, including cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. The purpose of this review is to summarize current available information relating to the potential effect of walnut polyphenols in health maintenance and disease prevention.
Published: December 29, 2015



Effects of Short Term Walnut Consumption on Human Microvascular Function and Its Relationship to Plasma Epoxide Content

Roberta R. Holt, Sun J. Yim, Gregory C. Shearer, Robert M. Hackman, Dragana Djurica, John W. Newman, Alan W. Shindel, Carl L. Keen

Improved vascular function after the incorporation of walnuts into controlled or high-fat diets has been reported; however, the mechanism(s) underlying this effect of walnuts is (are) poorly defined. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the acute and short-term effects of walnut intake on changes in microvascular function and the relationship of these effects to plasma epoxides, the cytochrome-P450-derived metabolites of fatty acids. Thirty-eight hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women were randomized to 4 weeks of 5g or 40g of daily walnut intake. All outcomes were measured after an overnight fast and 4h after walnut intake. Microvascular function, assessed as the reactive hyperemia index (RHI), was the primary outcome measure, with serum lipids and plasma epoxides as secondary measures. Compared to 5g of daily walnut intake, consuming 40 g/d of walnuts for 4 weeks increased the RHI and Framingham RHI. Total cholesterol and low- and high-density cholesterol did not significantly change after walnut intake. The change in RHI after 4 weeks of walnut intake was associated with the change in the sum of plasma epoxides (r=0.65, P=.002), but not with the change in the sum of plasma hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids. Of the individual plasma epoxides, arachidonic-acid-derived 14(15)-epoxyeicosatrienoic acid was most strongly associated with the change in microvascular function (r=0.72, P<.001). These data support the concept that the intake of walnut-derived fatty acids can favorably affect plasma epoxide production, resulting in improved microvascular function.
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