Eat Walnuts To Improve Colon Health
Research on gut microbes suggests that balance of the different types of microbes normally found in your stomach and intestine is crucial to your health. A new study suggests that regular consumption of walnuts may change the balance of gut microbes in a good way, reducing risk of colon cancer.
The new report in the journal Cancer Prevention Research suggests that walnuts change gut microbes, and that shift seems to help to suppress colon cancer risk. Researchers from UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine fed two different diets to two groups of rat subjects. One group of mice ate standard chow fed to lab mice while the other group ate chow that mimicked the profile of the standard American diet. Subsets of both groups were also fed walnuts.
Male mice fed the western diet fortified with 10.5% walnuts showed the greatest decrease in colon cancer tumors, compared to the same group that did not receive walnuts. The researchers surmise that walnuts, as a whole food with specific nutritional properties, may have a significant “anti-cancer punch.” Previous studies have shown that walnuts hold promise for warding off diseases that are connected to lifestyle – heart disease, diabetes and neurologic disorders.
During the study, fecal samples taken from the mice were analyzed to evaluate the bacterial colonies. Male microbiome was noted to be more diverse, compared to female rate microbiome diversity. Walnut consumption seemed to push the gut microbiome into a balance that was favorable for colon cancer prevention. Specifically, the male rats that consumed walnuts now had a less diverse gut microbiome, more similar to females, with a lower inflammatory profile. Inflammation is associated with disease risk.
What’s so special about walnuts? Walnuts are credited with having the most polyunsaturated fats out of all the commonly eaten tree nuts, and they also have the highest ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids plus a hefty dose of a form of vitamin E also credited with having anti-cancer properties.
Since the studies were performed on lab rats, more testing is indicated in order to substantiate the beneficial impact on human health as well. The researchers were impressed enough with the findings, to adopt a regular walnut habit themselves. Future studies are planned.
• Add them to a bowl of cereal and milk
• Add them to yogurt
• Blend them into a smoothie
• Top a soup or a salad with them.
• Chop and add them to homemade muffins
• Use them as a topping on pancakes or a baked potato.
For more delicious recipes, check out the recipe finder at walnuts.org.