A San Diego (California; USA) School of Medicine study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that one key to maintaining weight loss may be as simple as a handful of walnuts.

Investigators surveyed 245 overweight and obese individuals between the ages of 22 and 72, and put them into a one-year program to study weight loss. The groups were each given random diets from a higher fat one to a lower fat diet, or diets consisting of high carbohydrates and low carbs. Finally, they offered a walnut-rich diet, with higher fat and lower carbs. The last group got a handful of walnuts each day. After six months, the walnut group lost the most weight. Those same subjects also had improved cholesterol levels as compared to the other groups, with so-called bad cholesterol dropping and good cholesterol (HDL) rising.

What does this mean for you? As you look at various diets, ones higher in monosaturated (good) fats can lower your risk of heart disease and improve your blood cholesterol levels. A walnut-rich diet provides lots of polyunsaturated fats, including alpha-linoleum acid (ALA). This omega-3 fatty acid is found in certain vegetables, including flaxseed. Walnuts have these omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, potentially yielding some of the same benefits as omega-3 from fish. Try dropping some walnuts into your Mediterranean salad. And, Happy New Year’s! I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and I am off to eat a few walnuts (and a bit of dark chocolate, I must confess).