Walnuts may help keep the gut healthy

29 July 2017

Consumption of walnuts has been linked to improved gut and digestive health.

Walnuts have long been praised for their health benefits, with the nut known for being rich in protein and several dietary minerals including manganese and B vitamins.

Now, researchers have found that a diet with walnuts could lead to a significant increase in the diversity of bacteria in the gut.

Read more: Cranberries can boost gut health

In an animal study led by Dr. Lauri Byerley, rats were randomly assigned to a diet containing ground walnuts, equivalent to about 1/2 cup per day in humans, or a diet without walnuts for up to 10 weeks.

Calorie and nutrient intake were similar between the two diet groups. Compared to those that did not consume walnuts, rats that ate a walnut-enriched diet saw an increase in three types of beneficial bacteria.

"The health of the gut is related to overall health in the rest of the body," said Dr. Byerley. "Our study is showing that walnuts change the gut, which could help explain why there are other positive health benefits to eating walnuts such as heart and brain health."

The bioactive components of walnuts may be contributing factors in providing these health benefits.

Dr. Byerley added that the results of this study shed light on a new way that walnuts may aid general health, but more research is needed to understand how these outcomes could potentially translate to humans.

Read more: White or wholemeal bread? It depends on your gut

"Gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease," she added.

Funding for the research was provided by the California Walnut Commission (CWC) and American Institute for Cancer Research.

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