Conclusions from a new animal study conducted at Louisiana State University suggest that walnut consumption may be beneficial for digestive health by increasing the amount of good probiotic-type bacteria in the gut.
Gut health is an emerging research area, but it is being seen 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 do this by acting as a prebiotic to help nourish and grow the bacteria that keeps the digestive system healthy. In this study, researchers found that a diet with walnuts led to an overall significant increase in the diversity of bacteria in the gut.
The bioactive components of walnuts may be contributing factors in providing health benefits. Walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (2.5 grams per one ounce) and also offer protein (4 grams per one ounce) and fiber (2 grams per one ounce).
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.
Funding for this research was provided by the California Walnut Commission (CWC) and American Institute for Cancer Research. The CWC has supported health-related research on walnuts for more than 25 years.