Background

Dietary strategies that help patients adhere to a weight reduction diet may increase the likelihood of weight loss maintenance and improved long-term health outcomes. Regular nut consumption has been associated with better weight management and less adiposity. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of a walnut-enriched reduced-energy diet to a standard reduced-energy-density diet on weight, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and satiety.

Method

Overweight and obese men and women (n = 100) were randomly assigned to a standard reduced-energy-density diet or a walnut-enriched (15% of energy) reduced-energy diet in the context of a behavioral weight loss intervention. Measurements were obtained at baseline and 3- and 6-month clinic visits. Participants rated hunger, fullness and anticipated prospective consumption at 3 time points during the intervention. Body measurements, blood pressure, physical activity, lipids, tocopherols and fatty acids were analyzed using repeated measures mixed models.

Result

Both study groups reduced body weight, body mass index and waist circumference (time effect p < 0.001 for each). Change in weight was −9.4 (0.9)% vs. -8.9 (0.7)% (mean [SE]), for the standard vs. walnut-enriched diet groups, respectively. Systolic blood pressure decreased in both groups at 3 months, but only the walnut-enriched diet group maintained a lower systolic blood pressure at 6 months. The walnut-enriched diet group, but not the standard reduced-energy-density diet group, reduced total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) at 6 months, from 203 to 194 mg/dL and 121 to 112 mg/dL, respectively (p < 0.05). Self-reported satiety was similar in the groups.

Conclusion

These findings provide further evidence that a walnut-enriched reduced-energy diet can promote weight loss that is comparable to a standard reduced-energy-density diet in the context of a behavioral weight loss intervention. Although weight loss in response to both dietary strategies was associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors, the walnut-enriched diet promoted more favorable effects on LDL-C and systolic blood pressure.

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