A Daily Handful of Walnuts May Decrease Diabetes Risk, Possibly Obesity Too

Walnuts serve up a wealth of nutritional benefits that your body can use for fuel all day long. And it turns out, a daily handful of walnuts may actually decrease your risk for diabetes, according to recent research published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care (2015).

Researchers at Yale University Prevention Research Center and Griffin Hospital in Connecticut examined the effects of eating 56 grams of walnuts per day for six months. They found that participants eating walnuts daily experienced increased blood vessel function and decreased LDL cholesterol levels, compared to a control group that did not include walnuts in their diet. Although the researchers concluded that further investigation is warranted, this could prove helpful for those who need to decrease their levels of LDL cholesterol, especially since elevated levels of LDL are considered a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. 

Due to the high fat and calorie content of walnuts, researchers wanted to know whether eating these nuts on a daily basis would have an effect on weight. “We know nuts are really nutritious, but they’re really loaded with calories,” Dr. David Katz, lead author and director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center told LiveScience. “So the question was, if we tell people to eat nuts every day, will they over time start to gain weight?” In fact, the study found that 56 grams of walnuts per day did not change participants’ BMIs significantly. 

The study stated, “The inclusion of walnuts in an ad libitum diet for 6 months, with or without dietary counseling to adjust calorie intake, significantly improved diet quality, endothelial function, total and LDL cholesterol, but had no effects on anthropometric measures, blood glucose level, and blood pressure.” 

This is not the first time Dr. Katz has studied the health benefits of walnuts. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (2012) by Dr. Katz and colleagues found 56 grams of walnuts per day “improves endothelial function in overweight adults with visceral adiposity.” This may have significant implications for obese individuals or those suffering from metabolic syndrome.

Walnuts are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten as a quick snack at the office or added to a hearty bag of trail mix to take on a weekend hike. 

Here are a few ways that walnuts can boost your overall health and wellness:

  • Fight cancer
  • Improve heart health
  • Fight free radicals
  • Improve male fertility
  • Support brain function
  • Fight obesity
  • Limit metabolic syndrome
  • Reduce inflammation 

Walnuts are indeed amazing little nuts! Per 56 grams, walnuts serve up eight grams of protein, four grams of dietary fiber, nearly 100 percent of your Daily Value (DV) for manganese, 16 percent DV for iron, and 16 percent DV for vitamin B6, among other vital vitamins and minerals. Implementing walnuts into your daily regimen is easy — they’re a perfect snack to eat when you’re stuck at the office waiting for lunch or happy hour. And why not snack on walnuts during happy hour, as well!