Here is another autumn health superstar that we shouldn’t forget about: WALNUTS.
This nut that closely resembles the brain has been shown to be good for heart health, a delicious brain food, and may even have some anti-cancer properties.
Latest research shows that walnuts may also be a great ally against stress that in turn adversely affects cardiovascular health. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University studied 22 health adults who were provided specially planned meals for 6 weeks (source: WebMD). Three types of diets were tested, as follows:
An “average American diet which did not include nuts
- A diet with some fat and protein substituted with 1.3 ounces of walnuts (about 18 walnut halves) and a tablespoon of walnut oil.
- A diet with some fat and protein substituted with walnuts, walnut oil, and 1.5 tablespoons of flaxseed oil
Stress levels and blood pressure were measured at the end of each intervention.
Researcher and study author Dr. Sheila G. West explains the objective of the study:
“People who show an exaggerated biological response to stress are at higher risk of heart disease. We wanted to find out if omega 3-fatty acids from plant sources would blunt cardiovascular responses to stress.”
The results showed positive results in favor of diet rich in walnuts. Walnuts and walnut oil lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress by 2 to 3 points.
Dr. West continues:
“This is the first study to show that walnuts and walnut oil reduce blood pressure during stress says. This is important because we can’t avoid all the stressors in our daily lives. [The study] shows that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.”
Indeed, many studies have shown that stress is very bad for cardiovascular health and promotes the development and progression of heart disease. There are many recommended interventions to reduce stress including physical exercise, yoga, some types of martial arts (e.g. tai chi) and music therapy. A healthy diet is also known to help counteract stressors and it seems that walnuts are one of them.
In addition, flaxseed oil added to the walnuts in the study also added improvement to vascular health. Flaxseed oil is another source of fat that is good for the heart. It seems that walnuts and flaxseed oil in our diet might be an unbeatable combination against stress and cardiovascular disease.