Eating a walnut-rich diet can be effective in losing weight and improving cholesterol level, finds a new study.
The research also showed that a diet containing walnuts, which are primarily comprised of polyunsaturated fats, positively impacts heart health markers.
“One of the surprising findings of this study was that even though walnuts are higher in fat and calories, the walnut-rich diet was associated with the same degree of weight loss as a lower fat diet,” said lead researcher Cheryl Rock of the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine in the US.
“Considering the results of this study, as well as previous walnut research on heart health and weight, there’s something to be said for eating a handful of walnuts a day,” Rock said.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The research team studied 245 overweight and obese women from 22-72 years old enrolled in a one-year behavioural weight loss intervention.
Participants were randomly assigned to three different diets: a lower fat and higher carbohydrate diet, a lower carbohydrate and higher fat diet and, a walnut-rich, higher fat and lower carbohydrate diet.
Those prescribed a walnut-rich diet consumed 1.5 ounces (42.52 gram) per day.
The walnut-rich diet participants saw comparable weight loss to the other study groups; however, they exhibited the most improvement in lipid levels, especially in those who are insulin-resistant.
Looking at data from the first six months of the intervention, this study found that the average weight loss was nearly eight percent of initial weight for all groups.
In addition to a significant decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol, the walnut participants achieved a greater increase in HDL (good) cholesterol as compared to the other diet groups.
A walnut-rich, higher fat diet showed comparable weight loss to a lower fat, higher carbohydrate diet among overweight and obese women, the study found.