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August 20, 2017

Study: Walnuts can quiet that part of your brain that makes you want to eat like crap

For people looking to cut back on food cravings, a daily handful of walnuts could have significant and lasting effects.

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism looked at the walnut effect on hospitalized obese subjects who were treated with a smoothie containing 48 grams of walnuts.

Of the 10 patients, half were instead given a placebo smoothie with no walnut content.

A month later the placebo patients were served the walnut shake and vice versa. Later, researchers ran MRI exams while showing patients photos of both healthy food and high-fat food, as well as neutral pictures.

The MRI exams showed that those treated with the walnut smoothie had better impulse control than those treated with the placebo. Insula, the part of the brain related to impulse control, increased among drinkers of the walnut smoothie but not among the placebo drinkers.

“Walnuts can alter the way our brains view food and impact our appetites,” said lead author Olivia M. Farr to the New York Times. Farr works at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“Our results confirm the current recommendations to include walnuts as part of a healthy diet.”

In addition to being a good diet food control hack, walnuts are also linked to treating type 2 diabetes.

The study was supported by a Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center Grant and an NIH grant. The California Walnut Commission also supported -- but did not design or conduct -- the study.

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