Study: This Snack Could Be Key to Crushing Junk-Food Cravings

We’ll be keeping a bag of these at our desks, thank you very much.

Raise your hand if the office candy jar is your personal kryptonite? Same. So if you, like me, need a bit of help in fending off cravings for junky foods (but really, can Reese’s peanut butter cups even be called food?), take note: As the New York Times reports, a new study published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism suggests that reaching for this snack may be the key to controlling cravings.

Drumroll, please: The magical snack in question is … walnuts!

For the study, researchers recruited nine obese adults for two separate five-day periods. During one period, participants drank a smoothie containing 48 grams of walnuts — that’s about 14 walnut halves and 314 calories — each day. During the other period, participants drank a placebo smoothie, with the same taste and comparable in nutritional value. The researchers performed MRI scans on participants during both periods, showing the participants images of typical cravings-worthy food, like cake (Mmmm), along with less drool-inducing images of low-fat foods, like veggies, then neutral images of rocks and the like. And — dun, dun, dun — they found that when looking at photos of high-fat foods, during the period when participants drank the walnut smoothie, they had increased activation in their insula, a part of the brain that helps to control appetite and cravings. This suggests that walnuts could be quite the valuable weight-loss tool.

Now, before you start consuming a full-blown walnut diet, do note: This study was funded by the California Walnut Commission. So go ahead and grab a large pinch of salt to pair with these findings. Still, we’ll be keeping a bag of walnuts in our desk drawer because reaching for a handful of walnuts come that 2 p.m. snack time is no doubt better than reaching for a handful of mini Kit Kat bars.

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