Not only are nuts great for your brain, a new study out of Penn State suggests they may also be a power house when it comes to lowering blood pressure in individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the randomized study replaced some of the saturated fats in participants' diets with walnuts.
The overarching finding is that when participants ate walnuts daily, combined with a general lowering of saturated fats, they had lower central blood pressure.
"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." -Penny Kris-Etherton
Walnuts are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. ALA is a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that may help lower blood pressure.
The researchers recruited 45 participants, all between the ages of 30 and 65, who were overweight or obese.
For two weeks leading up to the study, the participants were placed on the same diet to attempt to control the starting point as much as possible.
They were then divided into three different dietary groups: one group ate whole walnuts, another group got the same amount of ALA and other nutritional markers as walnuts (just without the actual nut), and the final substituted oleic acid for ALA, but still without the walnuts.
The walnut consuming group outperformed easily.
It's important to keep things simple when assessing what to take away from a study like this. We've been proponents for a long time of single ingredient, whole food diets.
Walnuts being a whole food, outperformed the chemical components of them. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Base your diet around whole foods, and as close to single ingredients as possible, and you will be healthier long term.