If you've been looking for a healthy snack, then you may want to consider nibbling on a few nuts whenever you get a little hungry. Nuts are full of healthy fats and have been found to be some of the healthiest snack foods you can eat. Of course, you could always grab a few almonds or cashews when you feel peckish, but you might want to eat some walnuts due to the fact that a new study has found that they're an ideal option for keeping you healthy as you age.
During the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study, which was published in Nutrition, Metabolism, & Cardiovascular Diseases, 3,023 participants between the ages of 18 and 30 were initially asked about their eating habits at the beginning of the study, as well as after seven years and 20 years. Specifically, those involved were found to be eating an average of three-quarters of an ounce of walnuts each day. Beyond that, over the course of 30 years, participants underwent exams that noted both their physical and clinical measurements.
When the researchers then took a look at the long-term health of the participants, they found that those who regularly ate walnuts from the time they were younger continued to have a better diet, participated in more physical activity, and were less likely to be at risk of heart disease as they got older.
"I was not surprised by the results because walnuts are an excellent source of plant n3 fatty acids (more specifically alpha linolenic acid (ALA)), fiber, and other antioxidants," says lead researcher of the study Lyn M. Steffen, PhD, MPH, RD, associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "Other nuts are also nutritious and contain fatty acids and antioxidants – but other types of nuts do not contain ALA, plant-based n3 fatty acids."
Read on to learn more about how this new study's findings can help you age in a healthy way, and for more healthy aging tips check out Snacking Habits That Are Increasing Your Heart Disease Risk.
"Walnut eaters seem to have a unique body phenotype that carries with it other positive impacts on health like better diet quality, especially when they start eating walnuts from youth into middle adulthood—as risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes elevates," Steffen explains via EurekAlert!
Steffen later notes in the article, "the surprising, healthy shifts in overall dietary pattern of walnut consumers suggests walnuts may act as a bridge or 'carrier food' for helping people form healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits throughout life."
"Healthy habits learned early in life tend to stay with us as we get older. If we are used to reaching for a handful of walnuts for a snack, we're likely to continue this pattern well into adulthood and reap the nutritional benefits," Selena Devries, RD, Celiac Dietitian, tells Eat This, Not That!
Devries also explains that "walnuts contain omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory fats associated with better heart health outcomes." On top of that, "they also provide a healthy dose of fiber, coming in at about 2 grams per ounce, which will lead to steadier blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling full and satisfied for hours."
If you'd like to start seeing the benefits of walnuts, then Devries says that you can eat a few each day "by combining them with dried cranberries and your favorite high-fiber cereal for an on-the-go snack!"