Nuts are delicious superfoods and popular guilt-free snacks. They are also rich in protein and dietary fiber. According to an animal study, consuming nuts, specifically walnuts, promotes gut health.
There are many different types of nuts, and all of them offer a variety of health benefits. For their study, the researchers looked into the potential protective effects of walnuts against inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
IBD is a term often used to describe two conditions, namely Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both are long-term conditions that involve inflammation of the gut.
Crohn’s disease may affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus. On the other hand, ulcerative colitis only causes sores in the colon, or large intestine.
While anyone can develop IBD, it is often diagnosed in patients aged 15 to 40 years.
IBD symptoms may include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Pain, cramps or swelling in the stomach
- Recurring or bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
Not everyone with IBD experiences these symptoms. Others may also experience symptoms like anemia, vomiting and a high temperature.
Less common symptoms of IBD can include:
- Erythema nodosum, or painful red skin bumps
- Jaundice, or primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Uveitis, or painful red eyes
IBD may come and go, meaning you can experience severe symptoms during a flare-up. But the good news is, IBD can also go into remission.
Inflammatory bowel disease and walnut consumption
For the study, the researchers looked into the possible health benefits of walnut supplementation on mice subjects with ulcerative colitis. Walnuts made up 14 percent of the mice’s daily diet — the equivalent of 20 to 25 walnuts in a human diet.
The researchers found that after two weeks, the extent of ulceration or injury was significantly reduced in the colons of mice that ate walnuts. Nut consumption was also linked to the acceleration of the repair process. These findings suggest that consuming walnuts regularly can help prevent IBDs like ulcerative colitis.
Dr. Daniel Rosenberg, a professor of medicine, and Dr. Masako Nakanishi, an assistant professor at the Center for Molecular Oncology at UConn Health, noted that the protective benefits of walnuts could be due to how they are metabolized and how they affect the microbes living in the gut.
The researchers added that further studies can help identify which active compounds in walnuts are behind their protective benefits.
Why walnuts are good for you
Walnuts have the most beneficial combination of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids at a ratio of 1:4.2. Additionally, walnuts are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals that can help fight chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. (Related: Experts discover that walnuts can “change” the expression of genes that fight breast cancer.)
Walnuts are also full of dietary fiber that can promote gut health in patients diagnosed with IBD. Other essential nutrients found in walnuts include copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and vitamin B6.
Rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, walnuts are high in fats and calories, but the nutrients and fats they contain are said to be good for the heart.
Instead of snacking on salty potato chips, munch on a handful of walnuts. They are rich in dietary fiber, healthy fats and protein that promote good gut health and can make you feel full longer.
- Experts discover that walnuts can “change” the expression of genes that fight breast cancer
- New evidence shows that walnuts optimize the gut microbiome to suppress cell growth
- Go nuts for nuts: Long-term nut consumption can reduce your risk of obesity and reduce weight gain
- Give your digestive system a quick boost by eating sprouted nuts