An article published in September in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition had good news for walnut lovers. A study conducted by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center found “significant” improvement in blood vessel function in overweight adults at high risk for heart disease who ate two ounces of walnuts daily for eight weeks, with no other changes in their diet. This is important because poor blood vessel function is a root cause of heart disease and stroke. And this is a very simple intervention. Earlier this year, a major study published in the Journal of Nutrition touted the anti-diabetic effects of walnuts. In this ten-year study of about 138,000 women, those who ate walnuts two to three times a week showed nearly a 25% reduction in risk for Type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke.

A major 2013 European study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that eating 569 grams (2.5 cups) of fruits and vegetables daily reduces the overall risk of death by 10%, and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 15%. Conducted by researchers in over 10 countries, this study is part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, which follows more than 450,000 participants.  An interesting tidbit: Researchers reported, “Inverse associations were stronger for raw than for cooked vegetable consumption.” In other words, raw vegetables appeared to have a more protective effect than cooked ones.

The bottom line is you need to find ways to get these healthy foods into your life. Toss some walnuts into salads. Carry an apple and an ounce of walnuts with you for an on-the-go snack. Or try adding some walnuts to fruit salad.