Objective: A cardioprotective dietary fat profile is recommended for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The clinical feasibility of advice strategies targeting specific fatty acid intakes and the extent to which they can be achieved by free-living populations needs to be tested. Walnuts, with high n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content, may help optimize fatty acid intakes, but regular consumption might increase total fat and energy intakes. This study examined whether advice that refers to a total dietary pattern inclusive of walnuts would result in low-fat energy-controlled diets with optimal dietary fat proportions for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Research design and methods: A parallel-design, controlled trial was completed by 55 free-living men and women with established type 2 diabetes mellitus. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: low-fat (general advice), modified low-fat (total diet advice using exchange lists to differentiate PUFA-rich foods), walnut-specific (modified low fat including 30 g walnuts/day). Dietary intakes and clinical outcomes were measured at baseline, and at 3 and 6 months. Dietary goals were: less than 10% of energy from saturated fat, 7% to 10% of energy from PUFA, adequate n-3 PUFA (>or=2.22 g alpha-linolenic acid, >or=0.65 g eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]+docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) and n-6 to n-3 ratio less than 10. The proportion of subjects achieving dietary goals and major food sources of fat were determined.
Results: At baseline, dietary intakes were not significantly different between groups. No group and few individuals (10%) were consuming adequate PUFA, with meat the main source of dietary fat (22% total dietary fat). At 3 and 6 months, energy and macronutrient intakes were similar among groups. The walnut group, however, was the only group to achieve all fatty acid intake targets (P <.01), and had the greatest proportion of subjects achieving targets ( P <.05). Walnuts were the main source of dietary fat (31%) and n-3 PUFA (50%), while 350 g oily fish/day provided a further 17% n-3 PUFA consumed by this group.
Conclusions: Specific advice for the regular inclusion of walnuts in the context of the total diet helps achieve optimal fat intake proportions without adverse effects on total fat or energy intakes in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.