Walnuts ward off stress

 
By Shayna Brouker • Published: February 28th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Play

The holidays are fraught with both cheer and stress. Well-meaning in-laws overstay their welcome. The joy of giving to others turns into frantic last-minute trips to the mall for presents. The first holiday party is fun, but the next three just mean endless socializing.

The season can leave even the most levelheaded people feeling frazzled. All that tension is enough to make your blood pressure shoot through the roof. Besides adding yoga and deep breathing to your daily routine, what can you do to stop stress?

Along with New Year’s resolutions to relax more, help yourself to a handful of walnuts.

A new study found that omega-three fatty acids from plant sources like walnuts lowered resting blood pressure and improved blood pressure responses to stress. Study participants who included about eighteen walnut halves and walnut oil in their diets showed better cardiovascular health.

Those who added flaxseed oil, another source of “good fats,” showed even more dramatic results; flax proved to have an anti-inflammatory effect, actually reducing artery dilation to make way for easy blood flow. Both flax and walnuts are a great source of alpha-linoleic acids, which help cardiovascular health.

But because nuts are high in calories, the key is to stick to one serving, or one handful, a day. After all, you don’t want to undo the good you just did by widening your waistline. The serving should replace another source of fat in your diet not add to it. The good news is walnuts are high protein and will help keep you full.

So the next time you’re at yet a party, reach for the bowl of roasted walnuts. Breathe in, breathe out and take “heart” in the fact those nutty little morsels are indeed helping your heart — and soothing stress away.