Objective

The use of walnuts is recommended for obesity and type 2 diabetes, although the mechanisms through which walnuts may improve appetite control and/or glycaemic control remain largely unknown.

Method

To determine whether short-term walnut consumption could alter the neural control of appetite using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we performed a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over trial of 10 patients who received, while living in the controlled environment of a clinical research center, either walnuts or placebo (using a validated smoothie delivery system) for 5 days each, separated by a wash-out period of 1 month.

Result

Walnut consumption decreased feelings of hunger and appetite, assessed using visual analog scales, and increased activation of the right insula to highly desirable food cues.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that walnut consumption may increase salience and cognitive control processing of highly desirable food cues, leading to the beneficial metabolic effects observed.

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