A DAILY handful of walnuts reduces bad cholesterol in the elderly and protects against heart disease, a new study found.
Scientists have revealed that walnuts can also reduce hunger pangs and minimise obesity and high blood pressure, factors that can increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Commenting on the findings, Spanish researcher Dr Emilio Ros said: “Given walnuts are a high-energy food, a prevailing concern has been that their long-term consumption might be associated with weight gain.
“The preliminary results of the study demonstrate that daily consumption of walnuts for one year by a sizeable cohort of older people has no adverse effects on body weight.
“They also show that the well-known cholesterol-lowering effect of walnut diets work equally well in older people and is maintained in the long-term.
“Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of older adults. It’s encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population.”
Researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University presented findings from a two year-clinical trial, in which they tested 707 healthy older adults.
One group ate walnuts as 15 per cent of their daily calorific intake, while the other group ate none.
After 12 months both groups had similar results for weight gain, yet those eating walnuts experienced significant cholesterol reductions.
Every 28 grammes (1oz) of walnuts contains 13 grammes of polyunsaturated fat and they are the only nut with high levels of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid with 2.5 grammes per ounce serving.
Scientists hope to confirm the positive effects of walnuts on other age-related health concerns such as macular degeneration and cognitive decline.
Dr Ros added: “As we continue the study, we will assess how walnut consumption may affect, among other outcomes, cognitive decline and age-related macular degeneration, conditions that are public health concerns.”
Further studies presented at the annual Experimental Biology Conference 2016 in San Diego linked walnuts to multiple other health benefits, including gut health, metabolic health and feelings of satiety.