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New research presented at the Experiment Biology 2016 convention in San Diego this week suggests that daily consumption of walnuts can stave off illnesses associated with ageing, such as high blood cholesterol levels, without affecting weight.

Over a two-year clinical trial, researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University tested 707 healthy middle-aged adults divided into two groups. One group ate walnuts as 15% of their daily calorie intake, the other group ate none. The results showed the walnut-eating group significantly reduced LDL ('bad') cholesterol levels.

"Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of ageing adults," said researcher Dr. Emilio Ros. "It's encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population."

The positive effects of walnut consumption on cholesterol levels were "maintained in the long term", Dr. Ros added, and have the possibility to reduce other age-related problems such as macular degeneration and cognitive decline.

Previous studies have shown walnut consumption to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is thought to be due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids associated with reduced chronic inflammation and managing metabolic syndromes.

Many dieters avoid eating nuts, wary of their high calorie count, but nuts are an important part of a healthy diet and can help you feel fuller for longer thanks to the healthy polyunsaturated fats and fibre.