Objective: To determine the effects of daily walnut consumption on endothelial function, cardiovascular biomarkers, and anthropometric measures in type 2 diabetic individuals.
Research design and methods: This study was a randomized, controlled, single-blind, crossover trial. Twenty-four participants with type 2 diabetes (mean age 58 years; 14 women and 10 men) were randomly assigned to one of the two possible sequence permutations to receive an ad libitum diet enriched with 56 g (366 kcal) walnuts/day and an ad libitum diet without walnuts for 8 weeks. Subjects underwent endothelial function testing (measured as flow-mediated dilatation [FMD]) and assessment of cardiovascular biomarkers before and after each 8-week treatment phase. The primary outcome measure was the change in FMD after 8 weeks. Secondary outcome measures included changes in plasma lipids, A1C, fasting glucose, insulin sensitivity, and anthropometric measures.
Results: Endothelial function significantly improved after consumption of a walnut-enriched ad libitum diet compared with that after consumption of an ad libitum diet without walnuts (2.2 +/- 1.7 vs. 1.2 +/- 1.6%; P = 0.04). The walnut-enriched diet increased fasting serum glucose and lowered serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol from baseline (10.0 +/- 20.5 mg/dl, P = 0.04; -9.7 +/- 14.5 mg/dl, P < 0.01; and -7.7 +/- 10 mg/dl, P < 0.01, respectively), although these changes were not significant compared with those for an ad libitum diet without walnuts. There were no significant changes in anthropometric measures, plasma A1C, and insulin sensitivity.
Conclusions: A walnut-enriched ad libitum diet improves endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in type 2 diabetic individuals, suggesting a potential reduction in overall cardiac risk.