New research has found a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes among people who eat a handful of walnuts everyday.
The research involving more than 34,000 American adults suggests that those who eat walnuts may have about half the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to adults who don’t eat any nuts.
The average intake among the walnut consumers was around 1.5 tablespoons per day.
Doubling walnut consumption to three tablespoons per day was associated with a 47 per cent lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
That amount of walnut intake is close to the recommended serving size of walnuts, which is one ounce or four tablespoons.
The researchers did not look at the impact of increasing walnut consumption beyond doubled intake.
Dr Lenore Arab, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at The University of California, Los Angeles, said: “These findings provide more evidence for food-based guidance to help reduce the risk for diabetes.
“The strong connection we see in this study between walnut consumers and lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes is additional justification for including walnuts in the diet.
“Other research has shown that walnuts may also be beneficial for cognitive function and heart health.”
Researchers looked at figures from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which draws from a large sampling of the US population.
For the study, 34,121 adults ages 18 to 85 were asked about their dietary intake, as well as if they had been diagnosed with diabetes or if they were taking medications for diabetes.
They were also assessed for diabetes using common laboratory measurements including fasting plasma glucose and haemoglobin A1c.
Those who reported eating walnuts showed a lower risk for type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not consume any nuts regardless of age, gender, race, education, BMI, and amount of physical activity.
People with diabetes often have elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides, which can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Previous studies have examined the association between walnut consumption and cardiovascular health as well as diabetes.
The researchers said that the health benefits of walnuts may be down to the fact they are a rich source of recommended polyunsaturated fat (13 grams per ounce), which includes the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (2.5 grams per ounce).
The study, published in the journal Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews, was funded by the California Walnut Commission (CWC).
By Ben Gelblum and Stephen Beech