Walnuts are Great For Weight Loss
Weight loss is key to bodybuilders, athletes and non-athletes alike. Either way, it can be a daunting challenge. While some seem to have an easy time with weight loss, others can have a real challenge maintaining a healthy weight.
Research at the San Diego School of Medicine shows that the key to maintaining weight loss may be as simple as a handful of walnuts.
Walnuts? Are you nuts? Nope. It’s true. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association says that a handful of walnuts eaten each day can help to maintain your weight. Researchers surveyed 245 overweight and obese subjects between the ages of 22 and 72, and put them into one-year program to study their weight loss. The groups were each given random diets from a higher fat diet to a lower fat diet, or diets consisting of high carbs and low carbs, and lastly, a diet consisting of walnut-rich, higher fat and lower carbohydrate diet. The group that ate walnuts was given a handful each per day. After six months, the subjects who ate the walnuts lost the most weight. Those same study participants had an improved cholesterol levels when compared to the other two groups. “Bad cholesterol” took a sharp dive while the “good cholesterol” or HDL cholesterol increased!
What’s the secret to the science? When evaluating the data, the researchers believe that the group that ate the low-carb, high-fat diet ate foods that were higher in monounsaturated fats, or “good fats” found in foods like avocados, olive oil and walnuts. Foods rich in monounsaturated fats, like those found in the Mediterranean Diet, can significantly decrease the risk of heart disease and improve blood cholesterol. Here’s the kicker: the walnut-rich diet provided more polyunsaturated fats.
What does that mean? Why should I care?
Here’s what’s special about walnuts. Walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fats, including a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid typically found in certain vegetables such as flaxseed. Walnuts, though, were shown to have these omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, providing the same benefits as omega-3 from fish, such as improved cardiovascular function and weight loss!
Before you head out to the store and buy a week’s worth of walnuts, keep in mind that this study was focused primarily on women. Also, the study didn’t measure how the participants stuck to the diet, but from the data provided, it appears that compliance was quite good. Still, this is more good news about walnuts, as increasing research supports their value for weight loss and as a nutritional powerhouse. Nuts in general have been touted for their many benefits— from peanuts, cashews, pistachios and many others. Also, nuts are a terrific source of healthy, monounsaturated fat, and snacking on a few a day can be beneficial.
Walnuts are very “bodybuilder friendly” food that can easily be incorporated into your diet, in moderation— and are terrific to use for almost any type of recipe. Try topping a Mediterranean salad with walnuts, along with a glass of red wine for additional benefits. Not to mention, desserts containing avocados provide many benefits for a good, well rounded diet.