Walnuts belong to the tree nut family, along with Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios. The daily serving of 57 grams or 1/2 cup of walnuts may keep your digestive system healthy, shows a study.
According to researchers, a diet with walnuts led to an overall significant increase in the diversity of bacteria in the gut. From the animal study, walnut consumption may be beneficial for digestive health by increasing the amount of good probiotic-type bacteria in the gut. Lead researcher Lauri Byerley from Louisiana State University in the US said that gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.
‘Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased the risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors.’
The team analyzed rats and were randomly assigned to a diet containing ground walnuts, equivalent to about two ounces (1/2 cup) (approximately 56.69 grams) per day in humans, or a diet without walnuts for up to 10 weeks. Calorie and nutrient intake were similar between the two diet groups. Compared to those that did not consume walnuts, rats that ate a walnut-enriched diet saw an increase in beneficial bacteria including, Lactobacillus, Roseburia, and Ruminococcaceae.
"The health of the gut is related to overall health in the rest of the body," said Byerley. The study showed that walnuts change the gut, which could help explain why there are other positive health benefits to eating walnuts such as heart and brain health.
The results of this study shed light on a new way that walnuts may be beneficial for health, but more research is needed to understand how these outcomes translate to humans. The research appears in the journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.