Nut consumption lowers blood cholesterol and is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease, but effects on blood pressure (BP) are inconsistent. We assessed the 2-year effects of a walnut diet versus a control diet on office BP and 24-hours ambulatory BP in free-living elders participating in the Walnuts and Healthy Aging study, a randomized trial testing the effects of walnuts at ≈15% energy on age-related disorders. In a prespecified analysis, we enrolled 305 participants, of whom 236 (75%) completed the study (65% women; age, 69 years; 60% with mild hypertension). Walnuts were well tolerated, and compliance was >98%. Mean baseline office BP was 128/79 mm Hg. Adjusted changes from baseline in mean office systolic BP were -4.61 mm Hg (95% CI, -7.43 to -1.79 mm Hg) in the walnut group and -0.59 mm Hg (-3.38 to 2.21 mm Hg) in controls ( P=0.051). Respective changes in mean systolic 24-hour ambulatory BP were -3.86 mm Hg (CI, -5.45 to -2.26 mm Hg) and -2.00 mm Hg (CI, -3.58 to -0.42 mm Hg; P=0.111). No changes in diastolic BP were observed. In participants in the upper tertile of baseline 24-hour ambulatory systolic BP (>125 mm Hg), mean 2-year systolic 24-hour BP was -8.5 mm Hg (CI, -12 to -5.0 mm Hg) in the walnut group and -2.5 mm Hg (CI, -6.3 to 1.3 mm Hg) in controls ( P=0.034). During the trial, participants in the walnut group required less uptitration of antihypertensive medication and had better overall BP regulation than controls. Walnut consumption reduces systolic BP in elderly subjects, particularly in those with mild hypertension. Clinical Trial Registration- URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov . Unique identifier: NCT01634841 .
Keywords: blood pressure; clinical trial; hypertension; nutrition therapy; nuts.