If you haven’t already added a healthy serving of nuts to your diet, then I hate to say it, but ... you're nuts. From prostate cancer to memory loss, and heart problems to weight issues, there seems to be nothing a handful of nuts can’t fix.
But the walnut, with its high calorie count, has long been demonized for being one of the least healthy nuts.
New research, however, may give the Waldorf salad topping a much better reputation. A recent study published in the online journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care (funded by the California Walnut Commission) found that eating walnuts everyday will not, in fact, make you gain weight and can actually improve your diet as a whole.
"Our data suggest that inclusion of walnuts in the diet, with or without dietary counselling to adjust caloric intake, improved diet quality and may also improve [endothelial function], and reduce total and LDL cholesterol in this sample of adults at risk for diabetes," the research team said in a statement.
The team — led by Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center — recruited people who were at high risk of developing diabetes. All of the 112 participants spent six months adding walnuts to their diet then another six months taking walnuts out of their diet, and half were randomly assigned to get advice about whether or not they should be calorie-counting to adjust for the extra calories that come from nuts.
They found that whether or not the participants adjusted their daily calories or not, the quality of every person's diet improved. Basically, everyone accounted for the extra calories they were getting from the nuts, whether or not they were getting nutritional advice, by cutting out the less nutritious, packaged foods.
Although walnut consumption had little to no effect on blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, HDL "good" cholesterol, or HbA1c, it did significantly reduce total and LDL "bad" cholesterol levels among participants who ate them each day.
So, get crackin' and maybe throw some walnuts into some of your Thanksgiving dishes. Here are some ideas: