Walnuts (Juglans regia) are popular among vegans because these nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, walnuts are full of nutrients that can help boost brain and cardiovascular health. But according to a study, walnuts can also help optimize the gut microbiome “to suppress colon cancer cell growth.”
To date, colon cancer is the third most common type of the disease around the globe. The study, which was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, involved a collaboration between researchers from the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCONN) and Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine.
Can walnuts prevent colon cancer?
For the study, the researchers set out to determine the cancer-preventive effects of walnut consumption in mice.
The researchers observed two groups of mice that were fed two different diets. The first group of mice (the control group) received a standard lab mouse chow and the second group was given a chow that mimicked the nutritional profile of the typical American diet. Subsets of both groups of mice were given walnuts.
The findings showed that the mice that were fed the American diet fortified with seven to 10.5 percent walnuts had fewer incidents of colon cancer. The researchers noted that the reduction in colon cancer rates was particularly pronounced in male mice, which had at least 2.3 times fewer tumors than the female subjects.
Take note that the human equivalent to the average amount of walnuts given to the mice in the study is an ounce per day, or 14 half-walnut pieces. The study offers very promising results concerning the effects of walnuts against tumor growth.
The nutrient profile of walnuts
As the days go by, researchers uncover more proof that walnuts can help fight cancer. Experts posit that walnuts function as a probiotic that can help optimize the gut microbiome. In turn, this helps to promote a healthy colon while also suppressing both cancer cell and tumor growth. (Related: Walnuts inhibit cancer development, slow its growth, and kill cancer cells.)
Walnuts are unique because they are the only with plant-based omega-3s. Walnut phytonutrients and lipid extracts possess multiple healing components that can help target and kill cancer cells. These nuts are also rich in vitamin E, which has been associated with cancer prevention.
Walnuts also have other unique cancer-inhibiting compounds such as the flavonol morin 4, the quinone juglone, and the tannin tellimagrandin.
Aside from their cancer-fighting properties, walnuts can also help prevent various illnesses associated with poor lifestyle and diet choices. The regular consumption of walnuts may help lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and neurological disorders. Research also suggests that walnuts can help boost bone health.
Based on the results of this study, it is safe to assume that eating walnuts can help lower your risk of developing colon cancer.
You can add more walnuts to your diet by:
- Adding them to salads.
- Adding walnuts to plain yogurt or oatmeal with fruits.
- Making a pesto sauce with walnuts.
- Making homemade granola with a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.
- Making walnut bread.
To keep things simple, you can also eat on a handful of walnuts for a savory snack that will help you feel full. Just make sure you eat only one ounce of walnuts a day since consuming more than that may put too much stress on your digestion.
Avoid walnuts if you are allergic to nuts, and supervise children when giving them walnuts because they may choke on larger pieces.
To lower your colon cancer risk, eat walnuts regularly, exercise every day, follow a healthy diet, and make positive lifestyle changes.