DERBY, CONN. — Eating 2 oz of walnuts per day as part of a normal diet may improve cardiovascular health in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study conducted by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Results of the study appeared in the February issue of Diabetes Care. The California Walnut Commission, Folsom, primarily funded the study with supportive funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.

The randomized, controlled, single-blind crossover trial involved 24 adults (14 women and 10 men) with a mean age of 58. They randomly were assigned to either an eight-week diet of 2 oz of walnuts each day along with their normal diets or to an eight-week diet of just their normal diets. After an eight-week washout period, they reversed their eight-week diets.

Researchers compared the effects of the diets on endothelial function, which is a measure of how well blood vessels are able to dilate and increase flow and a predictor of overall cardiovascular risk. Endothelial function improved significantly when people consumed the walnut-enriched diet for eight weeks compared to when they followed their normal diets. The walnut-enriched diet increased fasting serum glucose and lowered serum total cholesterol, but these two changes were not significant.

“We were very gratified by these findings,” said David L. Katz, the principal investigator and also a medical doctor and director and co-founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center. “We all know the adage about ‘an apple a day,’ but in fact there are other foods that people should consider adding to their daily diets for specific health benefit. Walnuts rank high on that list.”

Walnuts are a source of protein, polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, according to the California Walnut Commission.