Walnuts are among the most thoroughly studied nuts for their health benefits. They are the highest in polyunsaturated fat and the only nut to have a significant amount of ALA, the plant type of omega-3 fatty acids. Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Anti-oxidants Research Laboratory says, “clinical trials with short-term consumption of tree nuts have shown beneficial results on parameters like lipid profiles, inflammatory markers, oxidative stress, insulin secretion and glucose homeostasis, all of which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.”
In yet another new study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Harvard, and colleagues looked at data on 138,000 women over 10 years. During that time 5,930 of the women developed diabetes. After controlling for diet, lifestyle factors, and weight, women who consumed at least 8 ounces of walnuts a month were 24% less likely to develop diabetes, compared to those who ate no walnuts. Eight ounces a month is only about a handful of nuts twice a week! “There’s been a lot of research on nuts in general in relationship to cardiovascular health. This is the first on walnuts and diabetes. Walnuts may have some unique benefits,” says Dr. Hu.
So next time you are reaching for a cookie or cracker, ask yourself, could I have a handful of walnuts instead? Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter July 2013