With heart disease remaining the top cause of death in the United States, millions of people are getting serious about maintaining their health. Whether through exercise, diet, or other significant lifestyle changes, Americans are increasingly realizing that a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle aren’t conducive to good health. But just what to eat in order to reduce one’s risk of heart disease remains a bone of contention.
With the understanding that many fatty acids can be beneficial to maintaining heart health, the war on fat is gradually winding down. Consumption of healthy fats such as omega-3s has become more and more mainstream over the past 20 years. And one of the best sources of healthy fats is nuts. While many Americans are fans of peanuts (which aren’t technically a nut), tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts are loaded not just with healthy fats but with important vitamins and minerals.
Researchers recently sought to figure out whether walnuts in particular could lead to lower blood pressure, thus helping those suffering from high blood pressure to reduce one of the major risk factors behind heart attacks. Study participants first spent two weeks each eating the same diet in order to determine a baseline. Then they were split into three groups: one that ate walnuts; one that didn’t eat walnuts but that substituted the walnuts with unsaturated fats and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the fat present in walnuts; and one that didn’t eat walnuts and which partially substituted the ALA present in walnuts with oleic acid.
All three groups in the study saw their blood pressure decrease, but those who ate walnuts saw their blood pressure decrease by the greatest amount. That seems to indicate that while healthy fats are beneficial, there is something extra about walnuts that is even more beneficial than just eating those healthy fats. So if you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, give walnuts a try. They’re tasty in salads, roasted with vegetables, or ground into pesto. Given how easy it can be to reduce your blood pressure by eating walnuts, there’s no reason not to at least give it a try.