Those looking to improve their colon health may want to tuck into walnuts for a crunchy superfood snack that reduces cancer risk as a new study suggests so.
Researchers from UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine found that eating walnuts may change gut bacteria in a way that suppresses colon cancer.
They found that mice that ate 7-10.5 percent of their total calories as walnuts developed fewer colon cancers. The effect was most pronounced in male mice, which had 2.3 times fewer tumors when fed walnuts as part of a diet similar to the typical American’s. That’s equivalent to a human eating about an ounce of walnuts a day.
Principal Investigator Dr. Daniel W. Rosenberg said that the results show for the first time that walnut consumption may reduce colon tumor development and may also act as a probiotic to make the colon healthy, which in turn offers protection against colon tumors.
The team tested the cancer prevention qualities of walnuts on mice fed two different diets. One group of mice ate a standard lab mouse chow, while the other group ate a chow that captured the nutritional profile of the typical American diet. Subsets of both groups were supplemented with walnuts.
Interestingly, male mice fed the Western diet fortified with 10.5 percent walnuts showed the greatest decrease in colon tumors compared with mice fed no walnuts.
Because the studies were done only in mice, more testing needs to be done in humans before walnuts can be unequivocally recommended as a cancer-prevention agent. But, Rosenberg isn’t waiting for the final word. Even right now, he says, “I try to eat walnuts every day.”
The study appears in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.