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  • Beth Chiodo RD, LDN, CWC

It's OK to Go Nuts!

Walnuts activate area of brain involved in appetite control

Walnuts have been celebrated for being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful in reducing cholesterol and promoting overall heart health. However, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently conducted a brain imaging study which showed that walnuts may play a pivotal role in weight loss by controlling appetite.

Researchers discovered that walnuts activated an area of the brain responsible for regulating hunger and cravings. A group of 10 obese participants consumed daily smoothies with either walnuts or a placebo added. The smoothies were otherwise nutritionally adequate and had a similar taste. Participants reported feeling less hungry when they consumed the smoothies with the walnuts. Magnetic Resonance Imaging confirmed that the area of the brain that regulates appetite and cravings, the right insula, had increased activity after consuming walnuts.

Though this study uses a small sample size, future research in this area could eventually lead to new treatments for obesity.

Add walnuts to salads, casseroles, morning oatmeal, or try these bars below:

Superfood Bars


2 cups oats

1 cup of walnuts (or any other nuts you like)

1/4 cup of honey or other sweetener

1 Tablespoon of coconut oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla

1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (optional)

1 tablespoon flax seed

1 tablespoon chia seed

1 tablespoon hemp seed

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/4 cup dried blueberries

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oats, bananas, coconut oil, salt, cinnamon, honey, vanilla, and protein powder with an electric mixer in a bowl. Mix in any chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit. Press into a greased 8x8 pan. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy. Be sure to store leftovers in refrigerator for up to one week.

Tip: You can substitute any combination of dried fruit, coconut, dried ginger, dried cherries, etc.

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