According to a new study, walnuts, combined with a diet low in saturated fats, can lower blood pressure in individuals at a risk of heart disease.
A team of researchers from the Pennsylvania State University in State College demonstrated that consuming walnuts daily alongside a low-fat diet, can help those at a risk of suffering from heart diseases. According to the researchers, theirs is the first research to investigate the association between walnuts and lowering cardiovascular risk.
45 participants in the age group of 30 to 65 were recruited for the study. The participants were either obese of overweight, and were asked to stick to a “run-in” diet for 2 weeks before the study commenced. A run-in diet contains 12% calories from saturated fats. Participants were assigned to three diet groups, all of which were low in saturated fats, and were asked to follow each diet for a period of 6 weeks before moving to the next diet. This meant that all the participants followed all diets at least once in the course of the study.
The three diet-groups were divided in the following way: containing whole walnuts, diet without walnuts but containing same measure of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and unsaturated fatty acids, diet without walnuts and partially replaced the exact amount of ALA found in walnuts with oleic acid. The researchers assessed factors associated with cardiovascular risk in each participant after each diet plan ended. The findings showed that unsaturated fats from walnuts or vegetable oils is advantageous for cardiovascular health. Although, a diet containing whole walnuts led to lower central blood pressure compared to results of other diets.
Lead author Prof. Penny Kris-Etherton, at Pennsylvania State University concludes, “When participants ate whole walnuts, they saw greater benefits than when they consumed a diet with a similar fatty acid profile as walnuts without eating the nut itself. So it seems like there’s a little something extra in walnuts that is beneficial, maybe their bioactive compounds, maybe the fiber, maybe something else, that you don’t get in the fatty acids alone.”