The newest health food craze might become the walnut diet

March 04, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

LOMA LINDA, Calif. -- Remember the oat bran craze? Get ready for walnuts.

In a study that is bound to generate interest among nutritionists and cardiologists -- not to mention health-conscious consumers -- researchers at Loma Linda University report that walnuts reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and protect against heart disease.

The study found that men who consumed a diet rich in walnuts showed a 16 percent drop in so-called "bad" LDL cholesterol, although their so-called "good" HDL cholesterol also dropped, by 5 percent. More important, however, is that the study found a beneficial 12 percent decrease in the ratio of bad to good cholesterol among men who were fed the walnut diet.

However, some nutrition and heart experts expressed skepticism about the usefulness of the study, which appears in today's New England Journal of Medicine and was financed by the California Walnut Commission, an agency that helps market walnuts.

According to these experts, it would be nearly impossible -- and unwise -- for consumers to duplicate the walnut diet, in which 20 percent of the calories came from walnuts.

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