In an age where ab belts and man Spanx are still a thing, there’s no denying America’s obsessive need to be at the forefront of weight loss trips, tricks, and trends. But what if we told you the secret to curbing cravings for cookies and fries lies not in diet pills or hypnosis, but in a food itself?
Over a course of five days, ten clinically obese volunteers were given a smoothie that contained either a handful of walnut halves or a placebo with identical taste. Since the study was double blind, neither the participants or scientists were aware of the smoothie’s walnut content.
After consuming the smoothie, participants were asked to view a series of photos that ranged from high-fat foods and low-fat foods to non-food items. Scientists tracked their neurological responses through a process called functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Following the study, participants returned home and continued their normal diet for a month. They were then asked to come back in and repeat the MRI testing with the opposite smoothie. The result: Researchers found that walnut-based smoothies not only led to a suppressed appetite, but also the activation of the right insula—the part of the brain that manages your impulses, especially when it comes to food.
“Although we had previously observed that walnuts give a sense of fullness, here we demonstrated for the first time that walnuts can alter the way that our brains view food and impact our appetite,” said author Olivia Farr, Ph.D.
This is obviously only one study with a very small sample group, but it’s good news for those of us who are admittedly a little nutty. Continue to toss a handful in a salad or protein shake and you may be two steps ahead in this game we call dieting.
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