Walnuts come with many health benefits. For the heart, they are good as they can reduce markers of low-density lipoprotein as well as bad cholesterol. They can also better overall heart health. A new research shows that walnuts can prove to be healthy for the heart as they can lower central blood pressure which tells about one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
This new study found that saturated fats in one’s diets can be replaced by better, healthier alternatives for keeping the heart healthy.
What Does This Study Reveal?
A new Penn State study shows that walnuts, when eaten with a diet which is overall low on saturated fats, can reduce blood pressure levels in individuals who are at risk of heart disease. This research was conducted to study the effects of replacing the saturated fats in people’s diets with walnuts. The results showed that doing so lowered central blood pressure.
Central blood pressure is the blood pressure exerted on organs such as the heart. The central blood pressure indicates a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. One of the researchers involved in the study said that walnuts contain ALA which may have a positive impact on blood pressure levels, but the team wanted to see if walnuts’ positive effects on blood pressure markers were contributed by other special components like polyphenols.
A professor at the institute and researcher of the study, Penny Kris-Etherton said, “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 are beneficial — maybe their bioactive compounds, maybe the fiber, maybe something else — that you don’t get in the fatty acids alone.”
For the purpose of this study, 45 participants in the age bracket of 30 to 65 were taken in. These individuals were either overweight or obese. Prior to the study, all of them were made to follow a run-in diet. Then, at the start of the study, participants were randomly given one of the following diets to stick to:
- The first diet was low on saturated fats but comprised of walnuts
- The second was also low on saturated fats but had ALA and polyunsaturated fatty acids minus the walnuts
- The third was low on saturated fats but was partially substituted by oleic acid
These diets were followed for six weeks. Researchers found that all three diets had a positive impact on heart health. However, the one that had walnuts as a replacement for saturated fats was found to be most beneficial; it reduced central diastolic blood pressure. Therefore, the study concluded that it was helpful to replace saturated fats with healthier alternatives such as walnuts for a heart-healthy diet. This study has been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.