New York: Eating a handful of walnuts each day might help keep the doctor away, at least for some people who are at risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, a new study suggests.
When people in the study added 56 grams of walnuts (2 ounces, or about 14 walnuts) to their daily diet for six months, they had improvements in blood vessel function and reductions in “bad” LDL cholesterol, which builds up in blood vessels and can lead to blood clots and heart attacks.
Blood vessel dysfunction and high LDL cholesterol are both risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and aging and occurs when the body can’t make or process enough of the hormone insulin.
Walnuts, which are rich in fatty acids and other nutrients like folate and vitamin E, were not linked to weight gain in the study even though they are a high-calorie food.
“Adding walnuts to your diet will improve your diet quality and health cardiometabolic health specifically – and you can add walnuts without fear of weight gain because they are very satiating and appear to bump out other calories quite reliably and make room for themselves,” said study author Dr. David L. Katz of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in Derby, Connecticut.
The nuts did not seem to improve high blood pressure and high blood sugar, two other risk factors for diabetes, Katz and colleagues reported in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care.
After taking into account factors such as age, exercise habits, calorie consumption and fatty acid intake, the study found walnuts were linked to improved diet quality regardless of whether people received nutrition counseling.
Even though the data from the study suggest that adding walnuts to the diet can help maintain overall healthy eating habits, said Roberta Holt, a nutrition researcher at the University of California, Davis.
“Walnuts and other tree nuts are a healthful source of plant-based protein and fat,” said participant of the study Mr Tobias.