A team of researchers led by JoAnn F. Manson of the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that consumption of walnut oil is significantly correlated to lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women. The disclosure was made in February of this year with the release of print issue number 4 from volume 143 of the Journal of Nutrition. Prior medical evidence associating polyunsaturated fatty acid content in walnut oil with lower risk of cardio-metabolic conditions served as the springboard for the research. The other members of the collaborative endeavor are An Pan, Qi Sun, Frank Hu, and Walter Willett, who hail from private and public medical and academic institutions in Boston and Singapore.
The research involved two decades of a large sample cohort of almost 60,000 women who belong to two age brackets, 62-57 and 35-52 years old, from the Nurses Health Study I and II, respectively. Findings showed that eating walnuts is inversely associated with the risk of having type 2 diabetes and the reduced risk is mediated by body mass index. With several other studies, the research by Manson et al provided a scaffold to the hypothesis that incorporating nuts as a component of a healthy balanced diet helps prevent diabetes.
Main Nutritional Components of Walnut Oil
Walnut oil is high in triglycerides, the heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. Among these triglycerides are polyunsaturated fats such as a-linolenic acid, linoleic acid, and the monounsaturated fat, oleic acid. It is also rich in bioactive gamma-tocopherol which is a nutritionally superior form of vitamin E. Another bioactive component is phytosterol.
Other Health Benefits from Walnut Oil
Aside from its high potential in reducing the risk factor for type 2 diabetes, there are other documented health benefits of walnut oil which include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties from the endogenous production of ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from alpha-linolenic acid;
- Anti-oxidant properties which fight or delay aging from gamma-tocopherol;
- Cholesterol reduction from phytosterols;
- Lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels, reinforces the integrity of cell membranes, boosts memory and brain function, etc. from oleic acid;
- Potential role as an intervention for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses associated with decline in mental health, as well as cancer, from the endogenous production of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from a-linolenic acid;
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular and coronary artery disease from a-linolenic and linoleic acids. A-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid which humans are incapable of producing and can only be sourced out from the diet.
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