Walnuts aren't just a great addition to desserts; they may also help high-risk individuals fight heart disease and diabetes.

In a recent study on Science Daily, researchers from the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center worked with 46 non-smokers between 30 and 75 years old who exhibited classic symptoms of metabolic syndrome. They were classified as either overweight or obese with a body mass index (BMI) over 25 and a waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and 35 for women. One group was prescribed a diet without walnuts, while the other group was asked to consume 56 grams a day at their pleasure.

After eight weeks, researchers found that those who added walnuts to their diets improved the flow-mediated vasodilatation of their brachial artery and lowered their systolic blood pressure, effectively lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

According to lead author Dr. David Katz, this strategy seems to be easier than others. "We know that improving diets tend to be hard, but adding a single food is easy. Our theory is that if a highly nutritious, satiating food like walnuts is added to the diet, there are dual benefits: the benefits that nutrient rich-addition and removal of the less nutritious food," he explains.

So try replacing your unhealthy
merienda with walnuts. They’re not only good for the weight conscious; they’re also quite healthy, too.

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(Photo by Pauline Mak via Flickr Creative Commons)

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