Pistachios make a healthy snack which, as well as tasting great, can lower a high blood pressure, too. There are several different ways in which pistachios can lower your blood pressure, so enjoy these guilt-free snacks.
Pistachios for high blood pressure
Pistachios are among the top 50 foods when it comes to antioxidant content, including carotenoid pigments (lutein and zeaxanthin), polyphenols, vitamin C and vitamin E which can improve blood vessel elasticity
Pistachios are packed with protein (20% weight), including a high percentage (2% weight) of l-arginine which has a powerful blood pressure lowering effect. Pistachios are also a good source of minerals that can lower blood pressure, especially potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Compared with other nuts, pistachios are relatively low in fat, of which most is beneficial monounsaturated fats (similar to those found in olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats. Pistachios also provide phytosterols which can lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Nuts are an important part of the DASH diet which has beneficial effects on blood pressure control. The effects of eating different nuts was therefore assessed from the results of 21 clinical trials, involving 1652 people, to see which nuts had the most powerful blood pressure lowering effects.
Overall, pistachios were the only type of nut found to significantly lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. Eating 30g to 60g pistachios per day could reduce a high blood pressure by around 3/1.6 mmHg.
A study which asked 28 people with high cholesterol levels to eat 1 or 2 servings of pistachios per day found average reductions in systolic blood pressure of 4.8/2.4 mmHg. The greatest reductions in blood pressure were seen after acute stress produced by cold exposure or challenging maths tests.
Adding pistachios to your diet
Shell-on roasted pistachios are one of the healthiest snacks for high blood pressure.
Removing the kernels from the shell helps to pace your intake, and allow for more mindful eating.
Don’t eat salted pistachios, as the sodium will offset any health benefits you gain from the pistachio nuts themselves.
Dark chocolate coated pistachios are also good for blood pressure, as dark chocolate is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidant polyphenols, and is a good source of magnesium.
Sprinkle pistachios over breakfasts, salads, desserts, yoghurt or add to smoothies.
You can also use pistachios instead of pine nuts to make a pistachio pesto sauce.
How to make a Pistachio Pesto Sauce
Pistachio pesto sauce is one of my favourite dressings – drizzle it over salads, cold meats, roast vegetables or whole meal pasta. But, whatever you do, when making it from scratch, omit the salt!
A recent study found that the salt content of ready-bought pesto sauces remains high despite campaigns to lower sodium salt consumption.
- 120g (5 cups) fresh basil leaves and stems
- 50g (½ cup) grated cheese – use Grana Padano cheese to boost blood pressure benefits
- 40g (⅓ cup) pistachio kernels
- 3 large peeled cloves garlic
- 80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
Simply blend the basil, cheese, pistachios and garlic together to form a thick paste, then slowly add the olive oil to make a super healthy pesto sauce. (Again, don’t add the pinch of salt!)
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring will help you maintain good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.