Objective

To assess the effects of chronic walnut consumption on body weight and adiposity in elderly individuals.

Method

The Walnuts and Healthy Aging study is a dual-center (Barcelona, Spain and Loma Linda University (LLU)), 2-year randomized parallel trial. This report concerns only the LLU cohort. Healthy elders (mean age 69 year, 67% women) were randomly assigned to walnut (n = 183) or control diets (n = 173). Subjects in the walnut group received packaged walnuts (28–56 g/day), equivalent to ~15% of daily energy requirements, to incorporate into their habitual diet, while those in the control group abstained from walnuts. Adiposity was measured periodically, and data were adjusted for in-trial changes in self-reported physical activity.

Result

After 2 years, body weight significantly decreased (p = 0.031), while body fat significantly increased (p = 0.0001). However, no significant differences were observed between the control and walnut groups regarding body weight (-0.6 kg and -0.4 kg, respectively, p = 0.67) or body fat (+0.9% and +1.3%, respectively, p = 0.53). Lean body mass, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio remained essentially unchanged. Sensitivity analyses were consistent with the findings of primary analysis.

Conclusion

Our findings indicate that walnuts can be incorporated into the daily diet of healthy elders without concern for adverse effects on body weight or body composition.

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