A diet containing unsaturated fats, such as those found in walnuts has similar weight loss effects of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, says a new study.
The research, led by Dr. Cheryl Rock of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, also showed that a diet containing walnuts have a positive effect on improving cholesterol level and heart health.
‘A walnut-rich diet was found to aid in weight loss compared to other low-fat and low-carb diet.’
"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 Dr. Rock."
The researchers studied 245 overweight and obese women (22-72 years old) enrolled in a one-year behavioral weight loss intervention. The study participants were randomly assigned to three different diets: a lower fat and higher carbohydrate diet, a lower carbohydrate and high fat diet and a walnut-rich, higher fat and lower carbohydrate diet. Those prescribed a walnut-rich diet consumed 1.5 ounces per day.
In the first six months of the intervention, the researchers found that the average weight loss was nearly 8% of initial weight for all groups.
The participants who followed a walnut-rich diet saw comparable weight loss, and improved cholesterol levels, especially in those who are insulin-resistant. In addition to a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol, the walnut participants achieved a greater increase in HDL cholesterol as compared to the other diet groups.
The participants who followed a lower carbohydrate and higher fat diet participants were
encouraged to consume foods higher in monounsaturated fats, the walnut-rich diet provided more polyunsaturated fats. Walnuts are the only nut in which the fat is primarily polyunsaturated fat (13g/oz), including a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-derived form of omega-3 fatty acids (2.5g/oz).
Kavita Devgan, a nutritionist specializing in weight loss, lifestyle modification and holistic wellness, says, Walnuts can be an important food for weight management. Research has shown that health benefits from eating walnuts do not come at the expense of weight gain.
A handful of walnuts provides fiber and protein, which aids in satiety, a key to weight management. Walnuts are naturally sodium, cholesterol and gluten free.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.