Walnuts can be part of a healthy diet that makes you feel fuller longer helping to prevent overeating or snacking on less healthy options. In addition to their significant amount plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids, a handful of walnuts (30g) per day also offers 4.4 grams of protein and 1.4 grams of fibre. Walnuts’ nutrient dense unique profile also makes meeting the EatWell Guide recommendations easy and delicious. Incorporating walnuts into meals and snacks is a simple and convenient way to add important nutrients to your diet.
There are specific hormones and areas of the brain that tell the body if it’s hungry or full, which play a role in body weight. Research investigating appetite hormones and using novel brain imaging technology to explore neurological responses to food cues show promise for walnuts’ potential role. A published research study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to explore possible connections between walnut consumption and central nervous system responses.1 Researchers found that consuming walnuts may activate an area in the brain associated with controlling hunger and cravings. Ten obese adult participants (ages 48-54) lived at the medical center for two 5-day sessions and were closely monitored for food intake and appetite. Participants reported feeling fuller when they consumed a daily smoothie with 48 grams of walnuts (approximately 1.7 ounces), compared to when they consumed a placebo smoothie with the same macronutrient content but with safflower oil instead of walnuts.
Larger and longer-term research is needed to clarify population-wide effects and determine the optimal intake of dietary PUFAs that offers the greatest health benefit.
1 Farr OM, Tuccinardi D, Upadhyay J, et al. Walnut consumption increases activation of the insula to highly desirable food cues: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over fMRI study. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2018;20(1):173-177.