Ask Dr. Nandi: Why walnuts might be your best weapon against cravings

Posted at 5:27 PM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-13 17:27:22-04

Walnuts are a nutritious nut packed full of antioxidants and good fats.

But a recent brain-imaging study has found walnuts can also have an impact on the brain, affecting food cravings and hunger control. 

A small group of people who were obese took part in two different five-day sessions. Each day they drank either a smoothie containing 48 grams of walnuts, or a smoothie with walnut flavoring.

Participants reported feeling less hungry after drinking the smoothie that contained real walnuts.  This was also backed by scientific evidence.   

Everyone was shown a range of images of typical craving and non-craving foods.  Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers were able to see activity in an area of the brain called the right insula. 

This is associated with control. After eating walnuts, the participants that viewed the typical carving foods, the brain lit up this area, indicating what researchers feel is likely involved in regulating hunger and cravings.  

Adding walnuts to your diet may not only help you with food cravings, eating them regularly can provide other health benefits like decreasing your bad LDL blood cholesterol, managing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and inflammation.

They have anticancer properties and are linked to brain health and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  So go ahead and add them to your diet.  

Partha’s RX

1. Store your walnuts in a cool, dry and dark place. This will improve their shelf life. 

2. Walnuts have a high oil content and can get rancid and taste unpleasant over time. If stored at room temperature, they’ll be good for a few months, in your fridge they’ll last for a year, and in your freezer, they’ll last up to 2 years.

3. Eat walnuts in moderation. An ounce contains 185 calories, 4 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat.  

4. Walnuts are very versatile - you can eat walnuts alone or be creative and add them to oatmeal, salads, yogurt, cottage cheese and smoothies.  

When it comes to cravings, it’s important to eat healthy and keep your body well-fueled with nutritious foods. 

Don’t skip meals because eating regularly will help to control cravings.   

Keep healthy snacks close by when you crave something sweet or salty. 

Walnuts are tasty, contain vitamin E, folate and fiber. But please remember to eat a variety of foods for good health.