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      Lose weight while keeping your heart healthy by eating fish and walnuts
      08/19/2020 / By Skye Anderson / Comments
      Lose weight while keeping your heart healthy by eating fish and walnuts

      Losing weight is something that many of us struggle with. Besides avoiding all of our favorite foods and limiting our meal portions, losing weight also entails exercising regularly and adhering to a healthy diet. And here’s a not-so-fun fact to learn, ladies: According to science, men have it easier than us when it comes to losing weight. Because of how their bodies are built?–?men naturally have more lean muscle and a faster metabolism –?they lose weight faster than we women do.

      To elaborate, men have a higher tendency than women to accumulate visceral fat around their abdominal area.?Visceral fat, also?called “active fat,”?is a type of fat usually found surrounding our internal organs (e.g., the liver, pancreas and the intestines). Although this body?fat can negatively affect hormone function, the way men tend to store their visceral fat more around their gut works to their advantage.

      When men start working out and?shedding?visceral?fat, it not only eases the pressure?around their intestines, but it also stimulates their metabolism. As a result, they burn even more calories. Unfortunately, the same thing doesn’t happen in women because we tend to store more fat around our hips and thighs.

      What’s more, researchers have also found that gender contributes to differences in cardiovascular function. According to a study involving obese men and women with Type 2 diabetes, men received cardiovascular improvements after aerobic exercise training, but women didn’t get the same benefits. Professor Jill Kanaley, one of the study authors and a professor at the University of Missouri, said that obese and diabetic women need to work longer?and harder to get the same heart benefits as men. Women also need to find a diet that works best for them.

      Well, here’s some good news for a change. Iranian researchers recently reported a type of diet that can help obese women not only lose weight but also improve their cardiovascular health as well as their fasting blood sugar levels. This diet, described in an article published in the Archives of Iranian Medicine journal, involves a combination of fish and a certain amount of walnuts. The participants ate this weight-reducing diet for 12 weeks and enjoyed tremendous results.

      What makes fish and walnuts heart-healthy?

      As part of a heart-healthy diet, the American Heart Association (AHA)?recommends eating fatty fish, which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, at least twice a week. Omega-3s are healthy unsaturated fats that can reduce inflammation inside the body.?Inflammation can cause the walls of our blood vessels to weaken and narrow. This, in turn, affects blood flow and the supply of oxygen and?nutrients to important organs, such as the brain and the heart.

      Besides reducing inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish can also lower our blood triglycerides and reduce blood clotting. Eating at least two servings of the following fish can also decrease out risks of stroke and heart failure:

      • Cod
      • Herring
      • Mackerel
      • Salmon
      • Sardine
      • Trout
      • Tuna

      According to recommendations by the Food and Drug Administration, adults should eat at least?8 ounces (oz) of omega-3-rich fish per week. Pregnant women should eat up to 12 oz, provided they choose varieties that are less exposed to mercury. Children are also advised to eat fish at least once a week. To get higher amounts of omega-3s and enjoy more health benefits, broil or bake your fish instead of deep-frying.

      Nuts are great sources of fiber, omega-3s and other essential nutrients. Although botanists argue that walnuts are stone fruits or drupes, they are generally thought of as nuts and are?often used as representatives. Like chestnuts,?hazelnuts and acorns (the?true nuts), walnuts are a nutritional powerhouse. One cup or 30 grams (g) of raw, organic walnuts provides the following:

      • Calories, 200
      • Carbohydrates, 3.89 g
      • Fiber, 2 g
      • Protein, 5 g
      • Healthy fats, 20 g
      • Calcium, 20 mg
      • Iron, 0.72 mg

      Walnuts also contain vitamins B6, C and E, copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.

      According to studies, the heart benefits of walnuts come not only from omega-3s but also from various antioxidants. These include vitamin E, melatonin and active compounds called polyphenols, all of which can prevent the oxidation of bad LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL can build up in the walls of the arteries and cause atherosclerosis.

      Here are some other benefits you can get from eating walnuts:

      • Decreased inflammation
      • Improved gut health
      • Lower risk of breast, prostate and colorectal cancer
      • Better control over your appetite
      • Lower blood sugar levels
      • Better bone health
      • Improved blood pressure
      • Enhanced brain function
      • Better sperm health

      Although walnuts make great snacks and can boost your nutrient intake,?they are still high in calories, so nutritionists?advise eating walnuts in moderation. As per AHA recommendations, limit your consumption to four servings (42.5?g) of raw or dry-roasted, unsalted walnuts per week.

      The benefits of a fish and walnut diet

      For their study, the Iranian researchers wanted to know the effects of walnuts, fish and a combination of both on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They recruited 99 overweight and obese women and divided them into three groups. These groups were assigned?one of the following?diets: a low-calorie diet?that includes 18 pieces of walnuts per week, a low-calorie diet that includes 300 g of fish (salmon or trout) per week, or a low-calorie diet that includes 150 g of fish plus 9 pieces of walnuts per week.

      The researchers measured each participants’ anthropometric indices (i.e., height, weight, body mass index, body circumferences), blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, inflammatory markers, blood lipids and coagulating factors. At the end of the study, the researchers found that?obese women who were assigned to the fish plus walnut diet saw the largest reductions in systolic blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and inflammatory markers. These women also enjoyed the largest increase in good HDL cholesterol levels.

      All in all, the researchers said that their study supports the effectiveness of a diet rich in fatty fish and plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids at improving heart health. They also said that this type of anti-inflammatory diet not only boosts cardiovascular health but also helps obese women lose weight while slashing?their risk of diabetes.

      Sources:

      DiscoverMagazine.com

      FrontiersIn.org

      Diabetes.co.uk

      PasadenaHealthCenter.com

      AIMJournal.ir

      MayoClinic.org 1

      MayoClinic.org 2

      MayoClinic.org 3

      MedicalNewsToday.com

      Healthline.com

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