Obesity and diabetes have been associated with increased consumption of highly processed foods, and reduced consumption of whole grains and nuts. It has been proposed, mainly on the basis of observational studies, that nuts may provide superior satiation, may lead to reduced calorie consumption, and may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes; but evidence from randomized, interventional studies is lacking. A total of 20 men and women with the metabolic syndrome participated in a randomized, double-blind, crossover study of walnut consumption. Subjects had two 4-day admissions to the clinical research center where they were fed an isocaloric diet. In addition, they consumed shakes for breakfast containing either walnuts or placebo (shakes were standardized for calories, carbohydrate, and fat content). Appetite, insulin resistance, and metabolic parameters were measured. We found an increased level of satiety (overall P value = 0.0079) and sense of fullness (P = 0.05) in prelunch questionnaires following the walnut breakfast as compared to the placebo breakfast, with the walnut effect achieving significance on day 3 and 4 (P = 0.02 and P = 0.03). We did not find any change in resting energy expenditure, hormones known to mediate satiety, or insulin resistance when comparing the walnut vs. placebo diet. Walnut consumption over 4 days increased satiety by day 3. Long-term studies are needed to confirm the physiologic role of walnuts, the duration of time needed for these effects to occur, and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00525629.