New Clinical Study Further Evidence: Walnuts Protective for People with Type 2 Diabetes

Benefits of walnuts trumpeted again

Eating walnuts as part of one's overall diet has been trumpeted again for people developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus - this time with a study published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The study follows another report published late last year in the international journal, Diabetes Care, which highlighted the importance of eating a handful of walnuts a day. Walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats, Omega oils and vitamins.

PhD student, Ms Lynda Gillen, from the Smart Foods Centre at the University of Wollongong, was the lead author of the latest research paper in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (JADA). The paper is on line at (then click on the link to ADA Journal) and is titled "Structured Dietary Advice Incorporating Walnuts Achieves Optimal Fat and Energy Balance in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus." Her paper concluded that clinicians and dietitians should be advising people to include walnuts as part of their total diet.

"This will help achieve optimal fat intake proportions without adverse effects on total fat or energy intakes in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus," Ms Gillen said.

Ms Gillen said the intake of 30 grams of walnuts a day in conjunction with 350g of oily fish a week enabled achievement of recommendations on the type of fat in an energy-controlled diet for the management of diabetes.

"In this way, individuals consuming walnuts were more likely to achieve a beneficial fat profile than those consuming a larger quantity of oily fish (500g/wk) or those following standard 'low fat' advice," she said.

The walnut group used in the study achieved targeted fat proportions earlier (at three months) than the other two dietary intervention groups and maintained them for longer (at six months). It was clear that the combination of walnuts and oily fish were more effective and more sustainable than a larger intake of fish alone," Ms Gillen said.

She said that after six months, those in the walnut group were consuming almost half their dietary fat intake from polyunsaturated fat-rich foods, with walnuts providing almost one third of total fat intake and one half omega-3 polyunsaturated fat intake. However, in contrast, the low fat advice group continued to consume foods rich in saturated fat as the main sources of fat in the diet.

"Achievement of energy balance despite increased intakes of high fat foods is an important finding in terms of weight management in diabetes," Ms Gillen said.

The Director of the National Centre of Excellence in Functional Foods, University of Wollongong, Professor Linda Tapsell said this was an excellent study from Ms Gillen's PhD thesis that demonstrates the dietetics behind clinical trials on the effects of individual foods. "It is one thing to talk about the clinical results, but it is useful for practitioners and consumers to understand how to get there with particular eating patterns," Professor Tapsell said. Professor Tapsell was co-author of the paper along with Postdoctoral Fellows Alice Owen and Marijka Batterham and PhD student Craig Patch.

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