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The Wonders of Walnuts & Omega-3 Rich Fats

Wonders of walnuts

Good fat, bad fat? Are you confused? Ever wonder which fats you should include and exclude in your diet?

All you need to do is replace some saturated fats with nutrient-dense healthy sources of fat. Walnuts are an excellent fat because they are a rich source of vitamin E, zinc, selenium and fiber. They are also low in saturated fat and are a rich source of the ever-essential omega-3 fats. But that’s not all.

In eating healthy fats like omega-3s — which are recommended for improving heart health, diabetes and inflammation — you are adding healthy fats to your diet without increasing your total fat and caloric intake. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association proves just that.

The Walnut Study

Researchers examined different diets and walnut consumption for patients with type-2 diabetes. It was conducted on 55 men and women with participants randomly assigned to one of three groups: low-fat (general advice), modified low-fat (with omega-3 rich foods), walnut-specific (modified low fat including 1 oz. walnuts per day).

Dietary Goals
Dietary intakes and clinical outcomes were measured after 3 months and 6 months. Dietary goals were:

  • Less than 10% of energy from saturated fat
  • 7% to 10% of energy from poly-unsaturated fat (PUFA)
  • adequate omega-3 PUFA (>or=2.22 g alpha-linolenic acid, >or=0.65 g EPA+ DHA)
  • omega-6 to omega-3 ratio less than 10

The proportion of subjects achieving dietary goals and major food sources of fat were then determined.

Results
Dietary intakes were not significantly different among the groups. However, no group and only a few individuals (10%) were consuming adequate PUFA with meat as the main source of dietary fat (22% total dietary fat). At 3 and 6 months, energy and macronutrient intakes were similar among the groups. However, this was the big finding:

The walnut group was the only group to achieve all fatty acid intake targets and had the the most participants achieving target goals. In this group, walnuts were the main source of dietary fat (31%) and omega-3 PUFA (50%), while 12 ounces of oily fish per day provided another 17% of omega-3 PUFA.

In short, this study reinforces the wonders of walnuts and the fabulous SuperFoods eating plan:  The regular inclusion of walnuts in the diet helps achieve optimal fat intake without negative effects on total fat or energy intakes in people, especially patients with type-2 diabetes.

This study from the Journal American Dietetic Association also included 12 ounces of oily fish per day as an additional source of omega-3 fats. Following the SuperFoods’ eating plans will show you how to include fish in your weekly menu. However, if just the thought of fish makes your nose curl, make sure to take omega-3 fish oil supplements.

Source: Gillen LJ, Tapsell LC, Patch CS, et al. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005; Jul;105(7):1087-96.

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