Simply Eating Walnuts May Improve Your Diet Overall, Study Says
Simply Eating Walnuts May Improve Your Diet Overall, Study Says

Simply Eating Walnuts May Improve Your Diet Overall, Study Says

Consuming two handfuls of walnuts a day could help lower cholesterol levels and keep heart diseases at bay, a new study suggests.

In a research published in the online journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, the walnut diet was associated with improvements in blood vessel cell wall function and ‘bad’ cholesterol after six months, although it didn’t have any impact on blood pressure or blood glucose levels.

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 112 people to either follow a diet with dietary counselling designed to curb calorie intake, or one without. For a period of six months, participants in the two groupings were also randomly assigned include 56 grams of walnuts in their daily diet, or the complete avoidance of walnuts.

After a three-month interlude, the intervention arms were reversed. The researchers found that 31 men and 81 women, who were aged between 25 and 75, were all at high risk of developing diabetes.

The study considered the participants’ height, weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and HbA1c, which gives an indication of average blood glucose levels over time. They were assessed for these factors at the start of the trial, and then again after three, six, 12 and 15 months. Dietary intake was similarly assessed at these time points.

Using the Healthy Eating Index 2010, the subjects’ diet quality was assessed. Improved diet is associated with a better cardiovascular risk profile and a lowered risk of long term conditions.

After taking account of influential factors, such as age, calorie and fatty acid intakes, and the amount of regular exercise taken, the analysis indicated that adding walnuts to the daily diet was associated with improved diet quality.

A walnut-rich diet was also associated with significantly improved endothelial cell function, irrespective of dietary counselling to curb calorie intake. Total and ‘bad’ cholesterol also fell significantly among those who ate walnuts every day.

“Our data suggest that inclusion of walnuts in the diet, with or without dietary counselling to adjust caloric intake, improved diet quality and may also improve [endothelial function], and reduce total and LDL cholesterol in this sample of adults at risk for diabetes,” the researchers say. They suggest further studies should be made in more diverse groups of people to further establish the health benefits of walnuts.

Walnuts are an oil-rich food, and are a great source of the all-important omega-3 fatty acids, according to Organic Facts. They are also an excellent source of good levels of zinc, iron, calcium and vitamin E, among others. However, walnuts are also a high-calorie food, containing 618 calories in every 100 grams, which may lead to weight gain if not taken in moderation.


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