I've told you in the past that you can drop dead after eating a fatty meal. Cooked oils are loaded with rancid and altered fats. These damage the critical endothelial (lining) cells of your arteries. In some cases, this can cause a quick inflammatory reaction in your body. The result is a heart attack or stroke.

But even if your body doesn't react instantly like this, the continuing attacks will reduce elasticity in your arteries over time. Then you get rigid pipes, a cause of high blood pressure.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to protect your arteries from damage caused by dietary fat and keep them flexible. And, believe it or not, it's not a drug. In fact, it's not even a supplement. It's a food.

Scientists performed a randomized crossover study (considered the best type of research) on a group of 24 non-smoking adults. That means that both the experimental and control groups switched sides, so to speak. Half had elevated cholesterol and half did not. The researchers gave the subjects a high-fat meal consisting of a salami and cheese sandwich, followed by a full-fat yogurt.

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They supplemented one group with five teaspoons of olive oil and they gave the other group 40 gms of walnuts (about eight nuts). The subjects had various measurements of blood flow taken before and after the meals.

Both the walnuts and olive oil reduced oxidation of LDL. Both reduced plasma concentrations of certain inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. However, only the walnuts brought on a more significant decrease in a compound called E-selectin. This is a molecule that promotes cell adhesion, one of the first steps in the generation of plaque. When your platelets clump together, they cause significant vascular damage and clots.

Walnuts contain wonderful plant-based polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid, as well as antioxidants. They also contain the amino acid arginine. Arginine is the raw material for nitric oxide (NO). NO relaxes the lining of your arteries and keeps platelets from sticking to each other and to the endothelial cells.

As I've always said, don't eat anything that isn't in the form God made. You don't need pills to prevent disease. You only need common sense. And you can likely reduce or put away your pills over time by using that same "common horse sense," as my daddy always put it. If you just can't give up the toxic foods, add as much of the good foods as you can. This study shows natural, organic foods can overcome the damage done by toxic foods. Of course, the benefits will be far greater if you eat these nutrient-rich foods without the toxic foods.

Ref: "Acute effects of high-fat meals enriched with walnuts or olive oil on postprandial endothelial function," Cortes B, Nunez I, et al, J Am Coll Cardiol, 2006; 48(8): 1666-71.

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