In Massachusetts, a first-of-its-kind brain imaging study showed consuming walnuts activates an area in the brain associated with regulating hunger and cravings. Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. These findings showed for the first time the neurocognitive impact walnuts have on the brain.
“We don’t often think about how what we eat impacts the activity in our brain,” said the study’s first author Olivia M Farr, PhD, an instructor in medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at BIDMC. “We know people report feeling fuller after eating walnuts, but it was pretty surprising to see evidence of activity changing in the brain related to food cues, and by extension what people were eating and how hungry they feel.”
Farr and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to observe how consuming walnuts changes activity in the brain.