04/10/2010 10:17 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Stressed? Eating Walnuts May Help

If work, money and relationship worries are really getting to you, here's a delicious way to ease the tension. A diet rich in walnuts or walnut oil may help your body deal better with stress, say researchers writing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

MorgueFile, jeltovski

Walnuts - which are a rich source of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid - have previously been linked with the ability to lower 'bad' cholesterol. And now the scientists claim they may help reduce stress-related rises in blood pressure too, which is great news if your tension levels are through the roof.

The experts took a group of volunteers and put them on three different diets for six weeks at a time - one without nuts, one with walnuts and the last with walnuts and flaxseed oil. Each diet was matched for calories.

During each six-week period the experts put the volunteers under pressure by filming them making a speech that they'd had just two minutes to prepare for, or by putting their feet in ice-cold water.

While they were on either of the diets that included walnuts the volunteers' blood pressure readings were significantly lower during the stress tests than when they weren't eating nuts - especially the diastolic reading (the bottom number in a blood pressure result), which represents the pressure in your arteries while your heart is resting.

So how many walnuts should you eat to combat the effects of stress? Around nine whole walnuts is the average serving used in the experiments, say the researchers, or a teaspoon of walnut oil.

What's your favourite method of dealing with stress?