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bigstock-walnut-and-a-cracked-walnut-is-26554331You may not be aware of the benefit of eating nuts but a recent study has confirmed that they have benefits that can help improve your health. The study involved tracking 58,063 women between the ages of 52-77 and a second group 79,893 women who were 35-52.  A specific group of self reported type 2 diabetics consisting of 5930 women were studied for a period of 10 years.  The group was assessed every 4 years with a survey monitoring their consumption of walnuts and other types of nuts. The results of the study showed that the group with high walnut consumption had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.[1]

Diabetes is a disease that has been on the rise and which is currently affecting 25.6 American Adults.  The number of diabetics is expected to grow to 552 million by the year 2030. Almost all of the diabetic cases that are seen are for type 2 or insulin dependent diabetes.  Many people question why nuts are healthy when they contain fat. But most nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). “Monounsaturated fatty acids are labeled as “good fats” by health experts including the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. Good fats are beneficial for maintaining proper cholesterol levels.”[2]

Other factors that are important to consider when looking at the study are that the women with more frequent walnut consumption were older and tended to weigh less, exercise more, and smoke less than women with infrequent consumption. Women who ate more walnuts also consumed more fish, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and total energy. Consumption of walnuts was positively correlated with intakes of peanuts and other tree nuts. These factors are important to consider because lower weight, exercise and no smoking or limited smoking would have a better outcome in most studies concerning health. At the same time the consumption of nuts was contributing to their outcome and lifestyle. What was important in the study was that during the analysis the consumption of total tree nuts was also associated with a trend toward a lower risk of incident type 2 diabetes before adjustment for BMI. This gives more credence that weight alone was not a single factor that influenced or skewed the outcome.

The researchers noted in the discussion that, “fatty acid composition of walnuts increases circulating concentrations of PUFAs, particularly linoleic acid and a-linolenic acid, which may favorably influence insulin resistance and risk of type 2 diabetes. Walnuts also have high amounts of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and phytosterol. Growing evidence from dietary intervention studies suggests beneficial effects of walnut consumption on lipid profile.”[3] The second significant finding was that increased consumption of walnuts and other tree nuts did help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.

[1] An Pan, Qi Sun, Joann Manson, Walter Willett, Frank Hu.  Walnut Consumption is Associated With Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women. The Journal of Nutrition. April 1, 2013 vol. 143 no. 4 512-518.

[2] Gaulin, Pam, MUFA Diet and How to Shop for MUFA Foods. Yahoo Voices. Dec.31st, 2008.

[3] Ibid