This is a good follow-up to the previous article which covered the use of diuretics to treat high blood pressure. I am opposed to that practice, and I am opposed to all the drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure, except in emergencies. Many of the anti-hypertensive drugs affect the kidneys in one way or another. But think about it: for most hypertensives, the disease exists in their arteries. It is the condition of their arteries that causes the elevated pressure. So, why treat the kidneys? Instead, why not take actions to make the arteries healthier? Isn't that the logical thing to do? Moderate hypertension should be treated with diet, lifestyle, and specific nutritional practices to improve arterial health. And there are so many safe and constructive ways that you can lower your blood pressure without causing havoc in your body.

One of the most healthful things you can do is to eat walnuts regularly, as I do. I eat walnuts almost daily and throughout the year.

A new study done at Pennsylvania State University found that adding 1.3 ounces of walnuts and 1 tablespoon of walnut oil to people's diets lowered their resting blood pressure significantly. However, it also produced a lower blood pressure response to stress- when the individuals were placed under stressful conditions.

Some of the participants were also given a vascular ultrasound test which measures arterial dilation. The walnut diet was found to significantly improve vascular function. They also found that the walnuts lowered C-reactive Protein or CRP, which is a cardinal sign of inflammation, which means that the walnuts were having an anti-inflammatory effect.

The trial lasted for 6 weeks, during which the control group was fed the standard American diet. The experimental group was fed the same diet except that some of the fat and protein were replaced with the walnuts and walnut oil, so that calorically, the diets were equal. However, it should be noted that there was no attempt to optimize the entire diet. The benefits accrued even though the subjects were still eating standard fare- except for the small portion of their diet comprised of the walnuts.

Of course, in real life, a person would be wise to eat walnuts and other raw nuts, and also to optimize their entire diet by eating a lot of fresh produce (fruits and vegetables), wholesome carbohydrates (such as whole grains and legumes) and minimizing or excluding all the bad foods.

My point is that if noticeable improvement occurred just from adding a small handful of walnuts to an otherwise mediocre diet, imagine if you really tried to eat healthfully in all respects. That's when the "power of your plate" can really turn your life around.

I'm not inclined to use walnut oil. Why bother? It's in the walnuts, so I say just eat them. I don't see any advantage in taking the oil separately. I think we should be quite restrained in our use of oils, period. And for what limited use I make of oil, I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil because I think it's superior, and I think it's far more practical.

Of course, walnuts is one of many fine nuts, and I don't doubt that it is one of the best. But in sizing up nuts, surely the almond has got to be near or at the top of the list. Nutritionally, almonds are in every sense a super-food. If I were limited to just 5 foods and no others- say for the rest of my life- I can assure you that raw almonds would definitely be one of my choices.

And when I say raw almonds, I do mean totally raw almonds, and they are increasingly difficult to find. You can't find them in stores. Those almonds have all been pasteurized. You can only buy raw almonds online. But, it's worth the trouble because almonds, like all nuts with the exception of chestnuts, should be eaten raw.

Frankly, at age 60, I have the blood pressure of a 20 year old, and I've been eating raw nuts daily for 40 years!