Consuming walnuts activates an area in the brain associated with regulating hunger and craving for food, says a new study.
The findings shed light on how walnuts discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness.
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What experts say?
- We don’t often think about how what we eat impacts the activity in our
- We know people report feeling fuller after eating walnuts.
- But it was pretty surprising to see evidence of activity changing in the
brain related to food cues.
- And by extension what people were eating and how hungry they feel.
- To determine exactly how walnuts quell craving for food, experts used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
- In addition, to observe how consuming walnuts changes activity in the brain.
- The scientists recruited a small group of volunteers with obesity to live in
BIDMC’s Clinical Research Centre (CRC) for two five-day sessions.
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- During one session, volunteers consumed daily smoothies containing 48
grams of walnuts.
- During their other stay.
- They received a walnut-free but nutritionally comparable placebo smoothie.
- In addition, flavoured to taste exactly the same as the walnut-containing
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- As in previous observational studies, participants reported feeling less
hungry during the week.
- They consumed walnut-containing smoothies than during the week they
were given the placebo smoothies.
- Functional MRI tests administered on the fifth day of the experiment
gave the team a clear picture as to why.
- While in the machine, study participants were shown images of desirable foods like hamburgers and desserts.
- Neutral objects like flowers and rocks and less desirable foods like vegetables.
According to expert:
- This is a powerful measure.
- When participants eat walnuts, this part of their brain lights up.
- And we know that’s connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full.
This area of the insula is likely involved in cognitive control and
salience.Meaning that participants were paying more attention to food
choices.And selecting the less desirable or healthier options over the highly desirable or less healthy options.