People who consume walnuts may have about half the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to adults who do not eat nuts, a study claims.
According to the researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the US, the average intake among walnut consumers was approximately 1.5 tablespoons per day.
Doubling walnut consumption (eating 3 tablespoons) was associated with a 47 per cent lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes, researchers said.
This amount of walnut intake is close to the recommended serving size of 28 grammes or four tablespoons of walnuts, they said.
In the study published in the journal Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which draws from a large sampling of the US population.
In this study, 34,121 adults aged between 18 and 85 years were asked about their dietary intake, as well as if they had been diagnosed with diabetes or if they were taking medications for diabetes.
Individuals were also assessed for diabetes using common laboratory measurements including fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1c.
“These findings provide more evidence for food-based guidance to help reduce the risk for diabetes,” said Lenore Arab from The University of California, Los Angeles.
Those adults who reported consuming walnuts showed a lower risk for type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not consume any nuts regardless of age, gender, race, education, BMI, and amount of physical activity.
“The strong connection we see in this study between walnut consumers and lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes is additional justification for including walnuts in the diet. Other research has shown that walnuts may also be beneficial for cognitive function and heart health,” Arab said.
It has been observed that individuals with diabetes often have elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides, which can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Previous studies have examined the association between walnut consumption and cardiovascular health as well as diabetes.
Findings from the new study funded by the California Walnut Commission (CWC) provide additional support for the role of walnuts as part of a healthy diet that may help reduce the risk for diabetes.
The researchers did not look at the impact of increasing walnut consumption beyond doubled intake.
Among the numerous properties in walnuts that may be providing health benefits, walnuts are a rich source of recommended polyunsaturated fat (13 grammes per 28 grammes), which includes the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (2.5 grammes per 28 grammes).