A study published in the most recent edition of The Journal of Nutrition looked at the relationship between walnut consumption and type 2 diabetes. The study by An Pan, at the National University of Singapore, and United States colleagues, showed that higher levels of walnut consumption were associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in women. The study followed more than 135,000 women over 10 years. The researchers controlled for variables such as smoking status, diet (including fish consumption), and physical activity. Results also demonstrated that women who consumed more nuts tended to have lower Body Mass Index (BMI), but the benefit remained even after researchers accounted for the difference in BMI. Interestingly, despite the higher fat content found in nuts, women in the study who consumed more nuts did not gain weight. The researchers noted that those who frequently consumed nuts also tended to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This variable may have accounted, in part, for some of the decreased risk of diabetes.
Previous studies have demonstrated an association between tree nut consumption and type 2 diabetes, but the Pan et al. study identified a particular type of tree nut, the walnut. Diabetes has become a major public health issue, with prevalence rates of type 2 diabetes on the rise. Increased knowledge of lifestyle and dietary changes that impact the development of this disease is an important area of focus, according to the authors. Among the tree nuts, walnuts are unique because they contain a high level of a particular type of fat (PUFAs). They also contain beneficial dietary fiber and antioxidants.