Eating walnuts may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer, as well as improve colon health, according to different studies. The Connecticut-based research center conducted a study among 46 adults aged 30 to 75. All of the participants were overweight with BMIs greater than 25. Men had waist circumferences larger than 40 inches, and women had waist circumference larger than 35 inches. The study group was also at risk for developing metabolic syndrome, a precursor to more serious disorders like cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.
The 46 participants were divided and assigned two different diets: the first group was assigned a diet of their own choosing that included walnuts, while the second group consumed a diet without walnuts. Those that followed the diet containing walnuts were given no more than 56 grams of walnuts – unroasted and shelled – to consume per day. This group showed a marked improvement in their endothelial function, despite being overweight or obese. While adding the walnuts to their regular diet didn’t lead to weight loss, it did increase vasodilation in the brachial artery. It also helped to improve their systolic blood pressure, thereby reducing their risk of cardiovascular disorder.
Dr. David Katz, the lead author of the research team, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, explained that altering one’s diet completely can be a challenge. That’s why so many people continue with unhealthy diets to this day. However, adding just one food can be fairly easy, making it less of a challenge than completely altering the diet.
With the single addition of walnuts, the study participants improved their endothelial function and reduced their risk of heart disease and diabetes. The research reveals that making a few small changes to the diet – including highly nutritious foods, for example – could help to improve the health of those suffering from metabolic syndrome and other obesity-related health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.
A study published in Cancer Investigation aimed to compare a walnut-rich diet to a non-walnut diet as a means of reducing prostate cancer. Previous studies found that a walnut-rich diet was beneficial in the prevention of breast cancer.
In this study conducted on mice, only three of the 16 subjects developed prostate cancer tumors while on a walnut-rich diet, compared to 14 of the 32 mice who did not eat walnuts. Furthermore, the size of the tumors in the walnut group was smaller than in the non-walnut group.
Senior author Russel Reiter said, “We found the results to be stunning because there were so few tumors in animals consuming the walnuts, and these tumors grew much more slowly than in the other animals. We were absolutely surprised by how highly effective the walnut diet was in terms of inhibition of human prostate cancer.”
“The data to date suggest that using walnuts on a regular basis in the diet may be beneficial to defer, prevent, or delay some types of cancer, including breast and prostate,” Dr. Reiter concluded.
A study published in Cancer Prevention Research found that eating walnuts may change gut bacteria in order to suppress colon cancer. The researchers found that mice receiving seven to 10.5 percent of their total calories from walnuts developed fewer colon cancers. The effects were more powerful in male mice, with 2.3 times fewer tumors when fed walnuts as part of their diet similar to that of the standard American diet – equivalent to eating an ounce of walnuts a day.
Principal investigator Daniel W. Rosenberg explained, “Our results show for the first time that walnut consumption may reduce colon tumor development. There is accumulating evidence that eating walnuts may offer a variety of benefits related to health issues like cancer. This study shows that walnuts may also act as a probiotic to make the colon healthy, which in turn offers protection against colon tumors.”
Convinced that you want to start eating more nuts? We don’t blame you. Here is an easy recipe to start consuming more nuts on the regular to benefit your heart, prostate, and colon.
Arrange two cups walnut halves on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the center of a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until roasted, for about eight minutes. Then combine in an airtight container with a cup unsalted pumpkin seeds, a cup chopped dried apricots, a cup banana chips, and ½ cup goji berries. You can add a bit of shredded unsweetened coconut or some semi-sweet chocolate chips. This makes about four cups.