Farr, O.M., D. Tuccinardi, J. Upadhyay, S.M. Oussaada, C.S. Mantzoros, 2017. Walnut consumption increases activation of the insula to highly desirable food cues: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over fMRI study. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2017 Jul 17. doi: 10.1111/dom.13060. [Epub ahead of print]
Aims: The use of walnuts is recommended for obesity and type 2 diabetes, although the mechanisms through which walnuts may improve appetite and/or glycemic control remain largely unknown. Materials and Methods: To determine whether short-term walnut consumption could alter the neural control of appetite using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we performed a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over trial of 10 patients who received, while living in the controlled environment of a clinical research center, either walnuts or placebo (using a validated smoothie delivery system) for 5 days each, separated by a wash-out period of one month. Results: Walnut consumption decreased feelings of hunger and appetite assessed using visual analog scales and increased the activation of the right insula to highly desirable food cues. Conclusions: These findings suggest that walnut consumption may increase salience and cognitive control processing of highly desirable food cues, leading to the beneficial metabolic effects observed.