Struggling with appetite can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to weight loss. Even if you are eating the right foods, eating too much is still a problem. Well there maybe an unexpected tool you can use to help curb your appetite. Walnuts.
Yup, you read that right, walnuts may help control appetite according to a new study by researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The researchers randomly assigned 10 patients with obesity five straight days of either a smoothie with 48 grams of walnuts or a similarly tasting and textured smoothie without walnuts. After one month of returning to their original diets, those who first got the walnut smoothie then got five days of the non-walnut smoothie and vice versa.
At the start of the study, the researchers measured each of the subjects’ brain activity using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). After the five-day smoothie diet, subjects underwent another fMRI to look for changes. The researchers showed the subjects pictures while undergoing the fMRI. Pictures included those of “highly desirable foods” (high-calorie or high-fat images, e.g., cake, junk food, fried foods), “less desirable foods” (low-calorie/low-fat images, e.g.,, vegetables and fruits) and “non-foods” (e.g., flowers, rocks, trees).
After the walnut smoothie diet, study subjects reported feeling less hungry than after the non-walnut smoothie diet. More over, following the five days of walnut smoothies, study subjects had differences in their brain activity (as measured by fMRI) when shown images of highly desirable foods. Specifically, the right insula part of the brain seemed to be more active. Parts of the insula may be responsible for satiety and inhibition.
It could be that something about walnuts may be sending signals to your brain to find “highly desirable foods” less desirable. Obviously there are a few shortcomings with this study, namely the small sample size. Also the fact that effects could wear off as your body develops a tolerance. But, walnuts being a healthy food high in omega-3’s, it can’t hurt to add a handful to your daily snack rotation.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control: First-of-its-kind study reveals mechanism of walnuts’ documented ability to decrease hunger.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170816181259.htm (accessed August 17, 2017).
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