Fish and walnuts are great food products for keeping your heart healthy, because they both contain omega-3 fatty acids. However, either of these foodstuffs could be off-limits, owing for instance to an allergy or a vegetarian lifestyle. To compare whether walnuts and fish have the same effects on heart health, researchers from the American Loma Linda University recently studied both omega-3 sources.
During the study, 25 persons followed three different diets in four-weeks periods and there was a one-week rest period between the different diets. The subjects were randomly assigned to a diet with no fish or nuts, a diet with salmon or a diet with walnuts. The amounts of walnuts (42.5 g / day) and fatty fish (113 g / twice a week) in the diets were in agreement with the US food recommendations for heart health.
The study found favourable effects of consuming salmon twice per week or eating 42.5 g walnuts per day on risk factors for heart disease. The study also showed that both foods benefit your heart in different ways.
There are several risk factors for the early development of heart diseases. Eating walnuts on a daily basis showed a positive effect on several cholesterol markers compared to the diet with no fish or nuts or the salmon diet. The diet with salmon was on the other hand associated with a significant decrease in triglycerides, also a recognized risk factor for heart diseases. The difference in effect can be explained by the fact that the type of omega-3 in walnuts differs from the type in fatty fish.
Should you choose fish or nuts: are you already confused?
Both nuts and fish are foods that fit in a healthy diet: they contain “good” fats and are packed with nutrients, such as vitamins and proteins. Eating both regularly is therefore a good habit and will help you to optimise your nutrient intake. They are also a good substitute for meat in your meal if you want to reduce the amount of saturated fats in your diet. Recipes that include nuts can be found here.
Rajaram S., Haddad E.H., Mejia A., Sabaté J. Walnuts and fatty fish influence different serum lipid fractions in normal to mildly hyperlipidemic individuals: a randomized controlled study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 89 (5) : 1657S-1663S.