High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure is rife in the UK, with over a quarter of UK adults thought to be afflicted. Unfortunately, heart attack and stroke are common occurrences following a hypertension diagnosis, and most cases have fatal outcomes. Health bodies advocate lifestyle changes as a first resort for lowering hypertension. According to one study, eating pistachio nuts regularly could reduce high blood pressure while you sleep.
The study, published in the journal of the American Heart Association, conducted experiments on a sample of 30 adults, all of whom were diabetic at the outset of the study.
Researchers set out to compare the effects of a moderate-fat diet containing 20 percent of daily energy from pistachios to a low-fat control diet on blood pressure.
Participants were split into two separate groups, the first of which consumed a control diet containing low-fat/ high-carbohydrate snacks.
The second group, on the other hand, consumed a moderate-fat diet containing pistachios.
READ MORE: Hypertension diet: The vegetable you should eat every day to lower blood pressure
Both groups adhered to their respective diets for four weeks before undergoing a series of tests.
As the diet period came to a close, subjects had their blood pressure checked, alongside heart rate variability, and other markers for cardiovascular disease.
The researchers noted: “The pistachio diet significantly reduced total peripheral resistance, increased cardiac output, and improved some measures of heart rate variability.
“Systolic ambulatory blood pressure was significantly reduced […] following the pistachio diet, with the greatest reduction observed during sleep.”
The researchers concluded: “A moderate-fat diet containing pistachios modestly improves some cardiovascular risk factors in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes.”
Healthline supports these findings, stating that the lowering effects of pistachios on blood pressure are greater than those seen with any other nuts.
Previous studies have pointed out that pistachios contain monounsaturated fatty acids and high amounts of polysterols, which have known benefits for hypertension.
The authors of one review of 21 studies noted that eating pistachios reduced the upper limit of blood pressure by 1.82.mm/Hg and the lower limit by 0.8 mm/Hg.
The lower number, referred to as diastolic pressure, is a measure of the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
The top number, systolic pressure, measures the pressure inside the artery when the heart is contracting.
Because it offers a better indication of pressure on the heart, the latter number offers a better indication of stroke or heart attack risk, according to Blood Pressure UK.
Beyond their benefits for blood pressure, pistachios also contain the amino acid L-arginine, which is converted into nitric oxide in the body.
Nitric oxide plays a key role in vasodilation – which refers to the widening and dilation of blood vessels.
By promoting better blood flow, pistachios are able to support a number of physical functions such as erectile dysfunction.
These same nutritional qualities have demonstrated lowering effects on high cholesterol in separate bodies of research.
This is also supported by the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in pistachios, which are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
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