A new study suggests a diet high in unsaturated fats, such as those found in walnuts, has similar weight loss effects as a low fat diet.
The research, led by Dr. Cheryl Rock of the University of California, also revealed that a diet containing walnuts has a positive impact oncholesterol levels.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
As part of the study, Dr Rock and her team monitored 245 overweight women who were taking part in a behavioural weight loss program.
Each woman was assigned either a low fat and high carb diet, a low carb and high fat diet, or a walnut-rich, higher fat and lower carb diet.
After six months, women on the walnut-rich diet experienced similar weight loss to the other groups but showed the most improvement in cholesterol levels. In particular their bad cholesterol levels decreased while their good cholesterol levels increased.
Dr Rock believes this is a result of eating more polyunsaturated fats.
So while the low carb and high fat diet participants consumed foods high in monounsaturated fats, the walnut-rich diet provided more polyunsaturated fats.
Similar studies have also highlighted the health benefits of consuming polyunsaturated fats. Researchers at Harvard found that people who replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats live longer and have a lower risk of heart disease.
Want to eat more walnuts? Try this apple and walnut salad for dinner or these healthy raw brownies for dessert.