Walnuts, Flaxseed and Metabolic Syndrome

June 18, 2015

The many benefits of nuts and seeds make them a welcome addition to our nutritional regimes, but for people who struggle with weight problems, the high amount of calories are a deal-breaker. However, research has found a new benefit to the already impressive list that walnuts and flaxseed in particular offer -- they may help alleviate the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors -- abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, high lipids, and high blood sugar -- which increase risks for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Research looked into the effects of flaxseeds and walnuts on metabolic syndrome because they are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and fiber. Scientists conducted a 12-week long study of 283 participants, including 158 men and 125 women who had all been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and demonstrated abdominal obesity and high cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugars. Participants were organized into three groups, one group replaced staple foods such as rice and bread with bread containing an ounce of flaxseed,  a second group replaced the same staple foods with bread containing an ounce of walnuts while the third group was a control group and were not directed to make any specific dietary changes. All three groups received lifestyle counseling based on the American Heart Association guidelines which advises participants to eat a low-fat diet, limit intake of red or processed meat, lower salt intake, eat more fruit and vegetables, quit smoking, and limit alcohol. At the end of the study, researchers found that all 3 groups consumed more protein and fat while their carbohydrate intake decreased. Participants in both the flax and walnut groups ate more polyunsaturated fats and fiber than the control group. Fewer people in all groups were classified as having metabolic syndrome, with a decrease of 16.9 percent in the control group, 20.2 percent in the flax group, and 16.0 percent in the walnut group. Abdominal obesity decreased the more in the flax and walnut groups, while serum glucose was also lower in the flax group. All three groups lost weight. In short, researchers determined that using flaxseed and walnuts can help reverse the indicators of metabolic syndrome, particularly abdominal obesity, particularly when used in conjunction with lifestyle counseling. Walnuts and flax seed are two of the highest vegetarian sources of omega-3s,  which also reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. It's simple to include flaxseed and walnuts to your diet ... sprinkle ground flax seed and walnuts on your cereal and salads, add to your favorite recipes for baked goods and trail mix, or just grab a handful of walnuts for your afternoon snack. Walnuts and flaxseeds, small packages with big rewards!

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