Can walnuts, the tasty nut variety available in supermarkets up and down the land, play a part in bringing down the chances of getting diabetes?

Health news stories about walnuts are common, with a variety of research studies looking into this crunchy treat, and fresh research appearing often.

The California Walnuts Commission reports that one piece of recent research on a group of women showed that having two servings of the nuts every week or more, and a healthy diet generally, was linked to a 15 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes when BMI - body mass index - was taken into account. A serving was a portion of 28 grams in weight.

"In this study two or more servings of walnuts per week was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes which is so easy to incorporate," said dietitian Andrea Dunn.

Her walnut suggestions include using walnuts for as a breakfast addition, alongside yogurt, for example, adding them to a vegetable stir-fry as a topping or simply eating a handful for a snack during the afternoon.

Why not also try them as part of a salad? They will certainly provide a different texture to leaves, tomatoes and most other common salad ingredients, as well as a unique flavour.

"Observational studies can't prove cause and effect, but when associations are seen in large populations, and occur in a well established context- cause and effect may reliably be inferred,” commented Dr David Katz who is an expert in obesity and diabetes, about the recent research.

"The findings here strongly indicate the importance of consuming whole foods, such as walnuts, in the fight against diabetes."

The researchers looked at a pair of samples of women from the United States, those involved with the Nurses' Health Study and those involved in the Nurses Health Study II (NHS and NHS II respectively).

They looked at women who didn't have any cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease at baseline.

The study appeared in the Journal of Nutrition having been carried out by researchers working at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Most of the female sample was white and that may mean results don't apply to men or people from other ethnic backgrounds.

The California Walnuts Commission recommends that if you open a sealed pack of walnuts and want to store some, you should use an airtight container, as this will keep the nuts fresh.  

It also recommends storing them in either a fridge (when you're going to be using the nuts quickly) or the freezer (when you're planning to keep the nuts stored for one month or more).

By keeping these versatile nuts to hand in your kitchen, you'll have a much bigger chance of using them as one of the foods that you eat as part of your healthy living routine.

It's not hard to find them, and most supermarkets will stock walnuts, which can be found either in their shells or pre-shelled.  

One thing's for sure, this won't be the last time that research will link walnuts to a health benefit.