You probably already know nuts are healthy. But new study from the University of Illinois has highlighted some new findings about walnuts and gut bacteria, cholesterol, and overall health.
The controlled-feeding study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, involved 18 healthy male and female adults who consumed either no walnuts or 42 grams of walnuts (about ⅓ cup) for two 3-week periods .
Researchers collected fecal and blood samples at the beginning and end of each three-week period. This allowed them to look at the effects of eating walnuts on microbiota, bile acids, and metabolic health markers.
The results of the study showed eating walnuts did three things:
Let’s look at each of these further.
The study found eating walnuts increased these three colon bacteria: Roseburia, Faecalibacterium, and Clostridium.
Each of these bacteria produce butyrate, an essential substance for metabolism in your colon. Butyrate helps maintain gut barrier function and also has anti-inflammatory and immune system-regulating properties .
(Since the study didn’t measure butyrate specifically, more research will need to be done to see if it truly increases with walnut consumption. But this is still a promising sign for gut microbiome health!)
Faecalibacterium specifically has also been shown to reduce inflammation in animals, and higher amounts of it have been correlated with improve insulin sensitivity in animals. It has also been looked at as a potential probiotic bacteria down the road.
Secondary bile acids, which are made by microbes in the digestive tract, can damage cells. They’re also been seen in higher amounts in individuals with higher colorectal cancer rates, according to lead author of the study and assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois Hannah Holscher.
The study findings showed the walnut group had a reduction in these bile acids, which is promising news for colon health and further disease prevention through diet.
Along with the above findings, results also showed seven percent lower serum LDL cholesterol after walnut consumption compared with no walnut consumption.
This is good news for your heart, your gut, and your metabolism!
This study was spurred by former research showing we only absorb about 80 percent of the walnut calories listed on labels. That means the additional 20 percent is left for our gut microbes! And as this study has demonstrated, what the microbes are doing with those extra calories and fiber could be very good for health.
As we already know, nuts can be an great part of a healthy diet. They provide dietary fiber and unsaturated fatty acids, both necessary for good overall health and a diverse gut microbiome. Plus, walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids, making them one of the best nut choices you can make.
This new research just gives us more reasons to make nuts, especially walnuts, a regular part of our diets. If you’re following the Keto Zone diet, this is even greater news because walnuts because are one of the top low-carb nuts! So, go enjoy some today.