Posted on Wed, 30 Mar 16
A daily serve of walnuts in women at high risk for diabetes significantly improved diet quality and lowered cardiovascular risk, with no negative effect from extra calories.
Walnuts are an unusually nutritious food being a rich source of vitamin E, magnesium, folate, polyunsaturated fats, fiber, protein, and phytonutrients. Walnuts also have a very low omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio compared to other nuts. Overall these nutritional qualities make walnuts an important food for protection against cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of premature and preventable death globally.
To see if simple advice to eat walnuts daily could improve heart health a group of women at risk for type 2 diabetes (they were either overweight, had poor blood sugar, high blood pressure, and/ or poor blood cholesterol) were provided with 392 g of walnuts per week (56 g or ½ a cup day providing 366 kcal).
After 6-months tests revealed that diet quality, endothelial function (indicating improved vascular health), total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol improved significantly from baseline with the walnut-diet.
Despite the additional calories there was no negative effect on body weight. In fact, some people also received dietary counselling to help control caloric intake to balance the addition of walnuts but this made no difference to body weight or the beneficial effects.
“Walnuts and other nutrient-rich nuts have been found to contribute to satiety, which can help control appetite and total caloric intake,” commented the study investigators. “Numerous epidemiological and clinical studies thus far have shown that nuts are not associated with weight gain, likely due to their effects on satiety and possibly also due to inefficient absorption of caloric energy from nuts.”
So enjoying walnuts regularly could help improve your cardiovascular health, and you need not worry about the additional calories.
Njike VY, Ayettey R, Petraro P, Treu JA, Katz DL. Walnut ingestion in adults at risk for diabetes: effects on body composition, diet quality, and cardiac risk measures. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2015 Oct 19;3(1):e000115.