When it comes to playing favorites, nutritionists are not shy about their love for walnuts. All tree nuts– including cashews, pecans, pistachios and others—are packed with healthful benefits yet walnuts boast the most impressive stats.
- L-arginine, a heart healthy amino acid
- Copious amounts of omega-3 fats which are anti-inflammatory
- Liberal amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin
- Powerful antioxidants which gobble up free radicals
- May prevent prostate and breast cancer
- May improve sperm quality
- Help with weight control by increasing satiety
- Improve brain health
- Reduce sudden cardiac death
- Improve biomarkers in Type 2 diabetes
These potent nuts may have one more ace up their shells. New research suggests that walnuts may work part of their medicinal magic by changing gut bacteria.
“Walnuts have been called a ‘superfood’ because they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, and they contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants,” said Lauri Byerley of Louisiana State University School of Medicine. “Now, an additional superfood benefit of walnuts may be their beneficial changes to the gut microbiota.”
A team led by Dr. Byerly added walnuts to chow of one group of rodents. Another control group was fed only the regular chow. Two distinct groups of gut bacteria resulted. In the walnut-eating group, the numbers and types of bacteria changed with a significant increase in beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus.
“We found that walnuts in the diet increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut, and other non-related studies have associated less bacterial diversity with obesity and other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease,” wrote Dr. Byerley. “Walnuts increased several bacteria, like Lactobacillus, typically associated with probiotics, suggesting walnuts may act as a prebiotic.”
Read more about this exciting new research.
Walnuts need some extra care to prevent rancidity. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Ideas for adding walnuts to your diet:
- A handful of toasted walnuts are yummy as a snack
- Add to any grain bowl or salad
- Top vegetables with toasted walnuts
- Vegan burgers
- Add to smoothies
- Walnut cake or pie
- Top ice cream or yogurt for dessert
Check out the California Walnut website for recipes.
Walnuts may be pricy but the nutritional punch they pack makes them far cheaper than that next visit to the doctor or expensive prescription drug.