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Walnuts have always been considered as “brain food,” perhaps because the surface structure of the walnut has a crinkly appearance like that of the brain. Due to this reason, they have been considered as a symbol of intelligence, leading to the belief that walnuts actually increase a person’s intellect. While this is not exactly true, recent scientific studies have shown that the consumption of walnuts promotes brain function. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which increases brain activity. Omega-3 fatty acids coupled with iodine and selenium ensure the optimum functioning of the brain.

Walnuts are one food you should consider adding to your diabetic diet, since they can help your heart.

Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. As you may know, omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are necessary for human health, but the body cannot make them. You must get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish (salmon, tuna, and halibut), other seafood (algae and krill), some plants, and nuts. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function and normal development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. These nuts contain higher amounts of antioxidants than most other foods. Eating walnuts may improve brain health while helping prevent heart disease.

People with diabetes often have high triglycerides and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides and increse HDL cholesterol, so eating walnuts or foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may help people with diabetes. In fact, even a relatively small amount of walnuts each day (about 1 to 2 ounces) has been shown to improve some cardiovascular markers in people with diabetes — most notably, improved cholesterol levels.

Are walnuts high in calories?
A quarter cup of walnuts provides about 165 calories, but also 3.8 grams of protein, 3.4 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of fat, and 1.7 grams of fiber. Walnuts are also good sources of copper, manganese, vitamin B1, and vitamin B6.

In general, there is no indication that including nuts in the diet on a frequent basis would have any adverse effect in people with diabetes or those at risk for diabetes, as long as care is taken not to exceed caloric requirements.(1)

(1) Lovejoy J. The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk. Curr Diab Rep. 2005;5;379-384.

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