Walnuts: Healthy but Not Magic

8 Jul

“Handful of walnuts could be a ticket to weight loss and better cholesterol,” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online in February. Well, not exactly.

Researchers, funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, assigned roughly 210 overweight or obese women to one of three diets that cut calories equally (by 500 to 1,000 a day):

Lower fat, higher carb, Lower carb, higher fat, Lower carb, higher-fat with 1 1/2 oz. of walnuts a day.

All three groups were told to limit saturated fat, to choose healthy carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and exercise for a hour day.

After six months, all three groups lost about 15 pounds. (Earlier studies had suggested that insulin-resistant dieters would lose more weight on a lower-carb diet, but in the study they didn’t. However, women who were not insulin resistant when the study started lost more weight on the lower-fat diet than on the lower-carb diet without walnuts.)

LDL (“bad”) cholesterol fell in the lower-fat and walnut-rich groups. HDL (“good”) cholesterol rose most in the walnut-rich group.

What to do: Walnuts can be part of a heart-healthy diet that trims pounds, but they aren’t a “ticket to weight loss.”

Source: J. Am. Heart Assoc.  Nutrition Action Health Letter May 2016

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