A recent study at Pennsylvania State University concluded that eating a handful of walnuts a day has a measurable positive effect on reducing stress. This discovery, reported by Sheila G. West, PhD, shows that walnuts and walnut oil help reduce blood pressure by two to three points.
West stated in a press release, “This is the first study to show that walnuts and walnut oil reduce blood pressure during stress. 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.”
The test was conducted over a six-week period. Diets were matched for calories so no one gained or lost weight during the trial.
Each participant ate one of three diets: the first, a regular diet with no changes, the second, a diet that included 1.3 ounces of walnuts and a tablespoon of walnut oil substituted for regular fat, and the third included 1.3 ounces of walnuts, a tablespoon of walnut oil and 1.5 tablespoons of flaxseed oil.
The amount of walnuts, 1.3 ounces, is approximately 18 walnut halves, or a handful.
At the end of the trial diets, each participant was fitted with blood pressure, heart monitors and other stress-measuring equipment and subjected to two stressors. One was speaking before a crowd and the other was to sit with one foot in ice water.
Blood pressure in the second and third diet groups was two to three points below that of the first diet group.
Some of the participants also participated in a vascular ultrasound examination to determine the health of their arteries. The group with the third diet that of walnuts, walnut oil and flaxseed oil did the best. Previous research has shown that walnut and flaxseed oils may reduce the amount of C-reactive proteins and reduce vascular inflammation. This could lead to significant improvements in cardiac health.
West stated that people who “stick with one serving of nuts” in their daily diet should not experience any weight gain if the nuts are taking the place of another snack or dietary fats.
It should be noted that primary funding for the study was provided by the California Walnut Commission of Sacramento, California. West and a fellow researcher have previously received research grants from the commission and have served on its advisory committee.
Walnuts are a natural powerhouse for the body- omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber and high in protein, as well as other nutrients. They’re a great addition to any diet.
Source: Bill Hindrick, “Walnuts Reduce Stress,” Web MD Website, 6 October, 2010