TORONTO – Eating walnuts every day could have beneficial effects when it comes to delaying age-related health issues, a new study has found.
The Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study presented at Experimental Biology 2016 (EB) indicate that eating the nuts daily could positively impact blood cholesterol levels without adverse effects on body weight among older adults.
The dual site two-year clinical trial, supported by the California Walnut Commission, was conducted by researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University. It saw 707 healthy older adults divided into two groups.
One group added daily doses of walnuts totaling around 15% of their caloric intake to their diets, while the other group stayed off the nuts.
Both diets had minimal effect on body weight, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol over 12 months, but the walnut-eating group experienced significant LDL cholesterol reductions.
“Given walnuts are a high-energy food, a prevailing concern has been that their long term consumption might be associated with weight gain,” said Dr. Emilio Ros, director of the Lipid Clinic, Endocrinology & Nutrition Service at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. “The preliminary results of the WAHA study demonstrate that daily consumption of walnuts for one year by a sizable cohort of aging free-living persons has no adverse effects on body weight. They also show that the well-known cholesterol-lowering effect of walnut diets works equally well in the elderly and is maintained in the long term. Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of aging adults. It’s encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population.”
Scientific conclusions cannot yet be drawn from abstracts presented at EB 2016, but these findings help advance the understanding of potential benefits of eating walnuts as part of a healthy diet.
“As we continue the WAHA study, we will assess how walnut consumption may affect, among other outcomes, cognitive decline and age-related macular degeneration, conditions that were major public health concerns,” said Dr. Ros.