Why Walnuts Help Reduce Stress? Because they are rich in...

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A team of Penn State researchers have found that a diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil could help our bodies conquer stress. We know that Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E. What scientist didn’t know was how well walnuts could help us combat stress.

Researchers how foods that contain polyunsaturated fats, influence blood pressure at rest and under stress. In the past, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, found in walnuts and flax seeds can reduce low density lipoproteins (LDL) bad cholesterol. Now they have discovered that these tasty nuts can help battle stress and may also help reduce C-reactive protein and other markers of inflammation.

“People who show an exaggerated biological response to stress are at higher risk of heart disease,” said Sheila G. West, associate professor of biobehavioral health. “We wanted to find out if omega 3-fatty acids from plant sources would blunt cardiovascular responses to stress.”

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The researchers studied 22 adults that were health and had with elevated LDL cholesterol. All meals and snacks were provided during three diet periods of six weeks each. What the researchers found was walnuts and walnut oil in the diet lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory. Participants gave a speech or immersed their foot in cold water as a stressor. Adding flaxseed oil to the walnut diet did not further lower blood pressure.

Walnuts are a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, and unsaturated fatty acids, particularly alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, and these compounds could be responsible for the beneficial effects on blood pressure.

Flax oil is a more concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids than walnut oil, but this study did not test whether flax oil alone could blunt cardiovascular responses to stress.

“These results are in agreement with several recent studies showing that walnuts can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure,” noted West. “This work suggests that blood pressure is also reduced when a person is exposed to stress in their daily life.”

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