Walnuts blood pressure brings new research findings about an omega-3 link.
Vegans have difficulty getting enough of some omega 3 fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory effect because they are found mainly in cold water fish.
However, Penn State researchers have now found that a combination of walnuts and flax seed oil significantly lower diastolic blood pressure and decrease C reactive protein, a key inflammatory marker.
This page was last updated on 23rd November, 2019.
Nine walnuts a day (and a couple tablespoons of walnut and flaxseed oil) keeps the doctor away.
A diet rich in walnuts and its oil may prepare the body to deal better with stress, according to a team of researchers who looked at how they together with flax seed, which contains polyunsaturated fats, influences blood pressure at rest and when under pressure.
Previous studies have shown that omega 3, like the alpha linolenic acid found in walnuts and flax seeds, can reduce low density lipoproteins, the so-called bad cholesterol.
These foods may also lower C-reactive protein and other markers of inflammation.
The difficulty is that there is a marked difference between two very different LDL molecules. Those that are small and dense can permeate the inner layer of arteries, whereas those still carrying their fatty component cannot; these latter are not damaging.
"People who show an exaggerated biological response to stress are at higher risk of heart disease," said Prof West.
They set out to discover if omega 3 fatty acids from plants would reduce the catastrophic effect of exaggerated cardiovascular responses to stress.
The researchers studied 22 healthy adults with raised their LDL, the bad cholesterol. All meals and snacks were provided during three periods of six weeks.
They found that including walnuts and the oil in the diet lowered both resting blood pressure and BP responses to stress in the laboratory.
Participants had to give a speech
or placed their feet in cold water to stress their bodies.
Interestingly, adding flax seed oil to the walnut diet did not further
lower their blood pressure. Perhaps it isn't the omega-3 ALA that is the active ingredient.
"This is the first study to show the walnuts blood pressure connection during stress," stated Prof. West. "This is important because we cannot avoid many stressors in daily life.
This study shows that a simple dietary change - eating walnuts - will help us respond better to stress."
Walnuts and flax seed - affect on arteries
A subset of the participants also underwent a Doppler ultrasound scan in order to measure the effect on our arteries. Adding flax oil to the walnut diet significantly improved this test of vascular health.
Linseed oil is so named after it's most prodigious component, alpha linolenic acid, or ALA. It is an omega-3 fatty acid. It also has a small amount of linoleic, something quite different.
Linseed is simply another name for flax. When added to walnuts blood pressure it made a winning combination.
There are three omega 3 fatty acids. Two are found mainly in fatty fish and krill, and the third, ALA, in vegetable products; the richest and easiest to obtain is freshly ground flaxseed; perfect for vegetarians. It is not as effective though.
The oil in flaxseeds is over 50% omega-3, Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA).
Important for arthritis sufferers is that the flaxseeds plus walnuts diet also lowered C reactive protein, an arthritis marker, indicating an anti inflammatory effect. According to Professor West, that could also reduce risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
It is worth noting that the FDA in July 2015 gave new instructions to all drug companies marketing non-aspirin anti inflammatory drugs, that there is an increased risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke with drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac and celecoxib.
What is more it can occur as early as the first week of taking an NSAID.
Should you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, weakness on one side of the body or slurred speech, immediately stop all NSAIDs and get to the emergency rooms.
It is worth noting too that over half of the patients in most chiropractors' offices are consulting them for arthritis related conditions. Whilst iatrogenic disease occurs in the chiropractic setting too, it is extremely rare that it has the devastating side effects of NSAIDs.
It is questionable whether it is good practice to have a manipulation of the upper cervical spine whilst taking NSAIDS.
GOLD STANDARD RESEARCH METHODS
WALNUTS BLOOD PRESSURE
The researchers used a powerful, accepted design for their research. Tests were conducted at the end of each six-week diet, and each person consumed each of the three diets in a random order, with a one week break in between. The diets used were:
After each dietary period, the participants underwent two stress tests. In the first test, they received a topic; and they were given two minutes to prepare a three minute speech, which they had to present whilst being videoed. For the second stress they submerged one foot in ice-cold water. Throughout the tests they measured the participants' blood pressure.
Results showed that average diastolic blood pressure - the bottom number in 120/80 which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting - was markedly reduced during the periods when they were eating diets containing walnuts and walnut oil.
Walnuts are a rich source of fibre, anti-oxidants, and unsaturated fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic-acid, an omega 3 fatty acid. It is thought that some of these compounds may be responsible for the beneficial effect of walnuts on blood pressure.
Flax seed oil
(aka linseed oil) is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, but this study
did not test whether flax oil alone could reduce the response of the
heart and blood vessels to stress.
"These results are in agreement with several recent studies showing that walnuts can reduce total cholesterol and blood pressure."
Dr Sheila West.
"This research also suggests that blood pressure is more stable when a person is exposed to the stresses of daily life."
Whilst I know of no similar research with pecan nuts, they too are rich in omega-3, ALA, and may have a similar effect to that of walnuts blood pressure.
Personally I am skeptical about big pharma's guidelines about medication; they have such a checkered history of fudging the figures to increase their profits.
However, blood pressure medication I recommend without reservation as a chiropractor to my patients, despite the chronic cough they sometimes cause. The president of the international stroke foundation recently stated at a conference in Cape Town that South Africans usually require two different medications to control BP.
But when should you start taking them? These new BP guidelines from JAMA which came out in 2014 make a lot of sense.
It is a proven fact that many patients become anxious when having their BP taken. I refused to adjust the neck of a patient recently, using only very gentle chiropractic techniques that happily she responded well to. Her BP was 190/105 on medication; she is significantly overweight, but in fact she has white coat blood pressure.
However, her GP assures me that if you allow her to sit and read for half an hour, it drops to 135/90.
Maybe so, but I still do not adjust her upper cervical spine. And I've encouraged her to read this page about walnuts blood pressure. White coat BP is just a stress reaction, and even if it drops to normal when non stressed, it is a serious threat that it rises so high when she becomes anxious.
I am a blood donor; white coat blood pressure, or perhaps a fear of needles, often gives serious concerns to the phlebotomist, but once home it returns to normal.
Suggestion: whilst eating nine walnuts a day may seem intimidating, unlike blood pressure medication that often induces an irritating dry cough, walnuts have no side effects, and are probably a lot cheaper.
It is rather more PT, as one really should crack them yourself; if you ate only three walnuts a day? Should we all be eating a handful of walnuts or pecans every day? I try to.Bernard Preston » Pathophysiology of atherosclerosis » Walnuts blood pressure
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