Humans have been eating nuts for hundreds of thousands of years. It is the perfect hunter-gatherer food. Of course, nuts back then were all raw and organic, unlike most of the processed varieties of today.
We like to prepare our nuts, as well. Just put them in water and refrigerate for an overnight soak. This helps to destroy some of the antinutrients like lectins and phytates.
Nuts and Blood Pressure:
Nuts are a good source of fat, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Magnesium and potassium are just two minerals that are high in nuts and both are crucial for heart health. Potassium eases the tension in your blood vessel walls and magnesium is a calming mineral that induces vasodilation through nitric oxide production; magnesium also acts as a calcium channel blocker. Calcium and potassium reduce water retention and increase hormones that lower blood pressure. For more detailed information about potassium, magnesium and blood pressure see “Potassium and Your High Blood Pressure: Are You Deficient?” and “5 Reasons Magnesium Lowers Blood Pressure”
Studies prove that nut consumption is inversely associated with cardiovascular disease and the development of hypertension.
Please read about our recommended nuts. Please click on the purchase link to support our message of health and wellness.
7 Nuts To Help Lower Blood Pressure (and one seed):
Almonds – Almonds were one of the earliest cultivated foods. They contain Vitamin E, fiber, healthy fats, minerals and flavonoids. Almonds are a particularly good source of magnesium which helps to relax the blood vessels; they contain 80mg in 1 oz. They are also a decent source of calcium and reduce the risk of heart disease. This small but mighty nut keeps blood vessels healthy since it increases the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream, reduces blood pressure, improves blood flow and plays a role in lowering cholesterol. Replace a daily snack with almonds – you only need 50 g to make a difference. Studies show further benefits: they improve gut health which lowers inflammation and boosts the immune system.
Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts are native to the Amazon rainforest. They grow in pods which are extremely difficult to open. As a matter of fact, only two animals can open them: humans with a tool and a small rodent called an agouti who has chisel like teeth. Fortunately, we can access them and enjoy them as they are very high in selenium coming in at 96% of the RDI in just one nut. Some Brazil nuts can contain up to 400mcg depending on the soil and climate in which they were grown. Low selenium has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Selenium is an essential mineral which must be obtained from the diet and is an antioxidant, decreasing inflammation. In addition, selenium supports the thyroid and imbalanced thyroid function can increase blood pressure. Brazil nuts are also higher than other nuts in magnesium, copper and zinc. Just like many other nuts we report on, Brazil nuts are high in other antioxidants, lowering inflammation. These nuts also improve lipid profiles and reduce oxidative stress.
Hazelnuts: I think hazelnuts got their claim to fame through Nutella, certainly not a source I would recommend! But they really should be appreciated all on their own. They are packed with nutrients that help regulate blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Hazelnuts are particularly high in manganese which leads to the destruction of free radicals. The most abundant antioxidants in this nut are phenolic compounds which are present in the outer layer. Hazelnuts decrease cholesterol and inflammation. Eat them raw because the antioxidants can be damaged when heated.
Macadamia Nuts: are famously from Hawaii but they actually originated in the rainforest in Queensland, Australia. They were brought to Hawaii in the late 1800’s. Macadamia nuts have some of the highest levels of flavonoids (naturally found in plants) which our bodies convert into antioxidants and help to lower blood pressure. They also boast a significant level of manganese: 58% of Daily Value in 1 oz. Manganese helps form superoxide dismutase which helps to eat up free radicals. The fiber in these nuts can help to improve gut health and digestion. This fiber acts as a prebiotic which helps to feed your beneficial gut bacteria, and we know a healthy gut lowers inflammation which decreases blood pressure.
Pecans: Pecans are native to North America and its origin of use can be traced back to the 16th century when they were consumed and traded by Native Americans. Pecans contain beta-sitosterol, a compound that lowers LDL and reduces the risk of heart attacks. These nuts are a good source of Vitamin E, manganese, copper calcium, magnesium and potassium. A handful of pecans a day can protect against cardiovascular disease. Like other nuts, they contain polyphenols which act as antioxidants. You can pretty much make pecan crusted anything!
Pistachios: Pistachios are mentioned in the Old Testament and were a favorite of the Queen of Sheba who kept all her land’s production for herself! Perhaps she knew the benefits! This nut is high in antioxidant Vitamins A and E. These nuts also improve cholesterol and reduce oxidative stress (via the antioxidants). High cholesterol and oxidative stress can lead to high blood pressure. Of all the nuts, pistachios seem to have the strongest effect on blood pressure. They decrease cardiovascular risk factors and increase serum antioxidants.Pistachios are a great snack or you can add to salads and even pesto and use as a crust on meat. See “Get Your Pistachio Fix” for more information.
Walnuts – The oldest walnut dates back to 50,000 BC in Iraq, and they were considered to be food for the Gods. Walnuts are a rich source of ALA (alpha -linolenic acid-the plant based source of Omega 3’s) which positively affects blood pressure. A deficiency of Omega-3’s is associated with heart disease. An important compound in walnuts is l-arginine which is an amino acid the body needs to produce nitric oxide, which we mentioned is an important vasodilator. Walnuts have been shown to decrease “bad” cholesterol and increase the good. They are rich in plant sterols which can prevent cholesterol reabsorption.
BONUS: Pumpkin seeds Pumpkin seeds are obviously not a nut, but they deserve their place on this list as they can also help to lower blood pressure. These seeds are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium and potassium and regulate functions of the heart. These seeds are full of antioxidants which protect your cells from free radicals and contain high amounts of potassium. Both antioxidants and minerals support heart health and help to balance high blood pressure. These little seeds are one of the best sources of magnesium which many of us are depleted of today. About 79% of the population is deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is important in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. Pumpkin seeds also increase nitric oxide production (vasodilates blood vessels) and contain tryptophan which can help with sleep which we know is essential for heart health. Pumpkin seeds are so easy to incorporate in salads, breakfast bowls, smoothies and pesto or grind and use as “breadcrumbs”.
Enjoy your nuts
Nuts play a significant role in heart health through their nutrient, mineral and antioxidant status. They make a great snack, dessert, salad topping or smoothie addition and can take the place of unhealthy carbohydrates. They are satisfying and don’t leave you hungry or craving more food like a starchy carb snack. Grab a handful and lower your blood pressure. They are a great source of protein and healthy fats and can be enjoyed from breakfast to dinner and anywhere in between.
The bigger the bag, the less the cost. Keep the opened bags in the refrigerator to preserve freshness and keep the oil in the nut from going rancid.