According to research walnuts boost brain activity in the region associated with control and discipline meaning this wrinkly little nut could help you stay strong in the face of cravings - a dieter's nemesis!
The research revealed that walnuts apparently reduce food cravings and encourage a feelings of satiety which means people are less likely to be tempted to sabotage their weight loss diet by eating unhealthy foods after meals. People also reported feeling less hungry after just 5 days of eating the nuts.
The study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism analysed 10 obese people over two 5 day sessions. In the first session the participants drank a smoothie containing 48 grams of walnuts and in the second session they drank a walnut-free version that tasted exactly the same and was nutritionally comparable. The order in which the smoothies were consumed was completely random.
Once the 5 days was up the participants were then given an MRI brain scan while being shown images of highly desirable foods such as hamburgers and desserts as well as neutral objects and less appealing foods such as vegetables.
Walnuts activate the part of the brain associated with control and discipline
The results showed that the participants showed more brain activity in the region associated with control after eating walnuts - this translates to the suggestion that dieters will display more discipline when faced with unhealthy food choices. Participants also reported feeling less hungry on the days they drank the walnut smoothie - it's always easier to resist the temptation of chocolate bar if you're not starving hungry!
Lead author Dr Olivia Farr said:
'We know people report feeling fuller after eating walnuts, but it was pretty surprising to see evidence of activity changing in the brain related to food cues, and by extension what people were eating and how hungry they feel."
Study author Dr Christos Mantzoros added:
When participants eat walnuts, [a] part of their brain lights up, and we know that's connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full.'
It is not known exactly why walnuts have this effect on us but why not try adding some to your breakfast cereal or sprinkling them over your salad at lunch if you're keen to shift a few pounds!