High blood pressure – as the name suggests – relates to the force of blood coursing through your arteries. Although your blood pressure naturally goes up and down throughout the day, consistently high blood pressure places strain on the heart increasing a person’s risk of developing a heart attack. As with most medical conditions, diet is key. You don’t, however, have to live a life of deprivation with any of these healthy and delicious snacks helping to reduce hypertension risk.
In a study published in Science Daily, walnuts to help lower blood pressure reading was analysed.
In a randomised, controlled trial, researchers examined the effects of replacing some of the saturated fats in participants’ diets with walnuts.
Researchers noted that when participants ate whole walnuts daily in combination with lowering their overall amount of saturated fat, their blood pressure was lowered.
According to the researchers, central pressure is the pressure that is exerted on organs like the heart.
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This measure, like blood pressure measured in the arm the traditional way, provides information about a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State, said the study suggests that because walnuts lowered central pressure, their risk of CVD may have also decreased.
“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,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition at Penn State.
“So, it seems like there’s a little something extra in walnuts that are beneficial.
“Maybe their bioactive compounds, maybe their fibre, maybe something else which you don’t get in the fatty acids alone.”
The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content found in walnuts contributes to improvements in heart and blood pressure health.
Other components of walnuts, such as polyphenols, might also help control blood pressure among people at risk of cardiovascular disease.
ALA is a plant-based omega-3 found in walnuts.
Other dietary sources of alpha-linolenic acid include flaxseeds, soybeans, pumpkin seeds and tofu.
Studies have shown that daily consumption of soybeans and tofu may decrease markers for cardiovascular disease risk, including weight, body mass index, and total cholesterol.
The FDA has set 25g a day of soy protein as the minimum intake needed to impact cholesterol levels, said Medical News Today.
The health site added: “Consuming tofu as an alternative to animal protein can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
“This, in turn, decreases the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.”
“Instead of reaching for fatty red meat or full-fat dairy products for a snack, consider having some skim milk and walnuts,” Kris-Etherton added.
“I think it boils down to how we can get the most out of the food we’re eating, specifically, ‘how to get a little more bang out of your food buck’.
“In that respect, walnuts are a good substitute for saturated fat.”
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