According to a study, one of the benefits of eating walnuts is the lowering of blood pressure in individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease when combined with a low saturated fat diet. The randomized, controlled trial looked at the effects of replacing some of the saturated fats in individuals’ diets with walnuts. It was revealed that they had lower central blood pressure when they ate whole walnuts every day combined with a lower overall amount of saturated fat.
Central blood pressure is the pressure exerted on organs such as the heart and provides information regarding an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease. The study indicates that risk of cardiovascular disease may also have been reduced due to central pressure being lowered with walnut consumption.
The participants saw greater benefits from eating walnuts in comparison to consuming a similar fatty acid profile diet without actually eating the nut. Walnuts contain ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, plant-based omega-3 that could be positively affecting blood pressure.
Forty-five overweight or obese participants aged 30 to 65 were recruited for the study. Two weeks before the study started, they were placed on a “run-in” diet which included 12% of calories from saturated fat, mimicking the average American diet.
The participants were then assigned to 1 of 3 different diets after the run-in diet, all of which included a lesser amount of saturated fat than the run-in diet. One of the diets included whole walnuts, and another two without walnuts, one which included the equivalent amount of ALA and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and another that partially substituted another fatty acid known as oleic acid for the equivalent amount of ALA found in walnuts.
Vegetable oils or walnuts were substituted in all three diets for 5% of the run-in diet’s saturated fat content, and each diet was followed for 6 weeks by all participants, with a break between diet periods. Participants were assessed after each diet period for a number of cardiovascular risk factors, which included cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and brachial pressure.
It was revealed that while all 3 of the diets affected cardiovascular outcomes positively, with the whole walnut diet providing the greatest benefit, which included lower diastolic blood pressure. The study results emphasize how important it is to replace saturated fats with healthier alternatives. The average diet consists of approximately 12% calories coming from saturated fat, and all 3 of the treatment diets had about 7%, making use of vegetable oils or walnuts as a replacement. Cardiovascular benefits are had whether saturated fats are replaced with unsaturated fats from vegetable or oils walnuts.
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