The Wonderful Walnut

If you’re a fan of my blogs, then you know that I love to talk about walnuts. They are, in my mind, one of the best foods around. Walnuts are portable, healthy and satisfying, and they provide the body with plenty of vitamin E, manganese, copper and omega-3 fatty acids. There is plenty of research to cite their benefits; the most recent study appeared this week in the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer.

If you’re a fan of my blogs, then you know that I love to talk about walnuts. They are, in my mind, one of the best foods around. Walnuts are portable, healthy and satisfying, and they provide the body with plenty of vitamin E, manganese, copper and omega-3 fatty acids. There is plenty of research to cite their benefits; the most recent study appeared this week in the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer.

This study found that the risk of breast cancer in mice dropped significantly when adding just small amounts of walnuts (the equivalence of two ounces a day for humans) to their diet. Further, the study found that the addition of walnuts to the diet changed the activity of multiple genes that are relevant to breast cancer in both mice and humans.


Walnuts have also been shown to help reduce stress as well! A 2010 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that individuals whose diet was supplemented with walnuts or walnut oil had better responses in stressful situations. Participants in the study had both their resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress measured in the laboratory setting. Other studies have found that walnuts may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, while improving cognitive function and bone health. Not bad for one little nut!

How can you get more walnuts in your diet? Try making a homemade trail mix that you can bring to work, leave in the car or in your bag, or add to your child's lunch pail. Mix walnuts, dried cherries, 70% dark chocolate chips and 100% whole grain pretzels for a snack that is sure to reduce your stress level – as well as your risk for many health conditions!

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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