Let's start with the basics: Walnuts are a nut with a long list of health benefits only found in this particular tree nut. In fact, according to a recent study, even for heavy smokers, walnuts, and other tree nuts, have proven to cut the risk of small cell lung cancer in half.
But walnuts have a long list of fascinating benefits. Let's take a closer look at why you should be eating more of this food.
Walnuts help to reduce the threat of chronic inflammation
Imagine you were bitten by a snake - say, on on your ankle - your leg would swell up - not just from the snake bite but from your body’s attempts to neutralize the toxic venom circulating throughout the body. Now, you might be wondering, "what does this have to do with eating walnuts and (chronic) inflammation?"
Well, today, we're exposed to environmental toxins that make it seem like we're being exposed to a "snake bite" - every minute of every day. This constant exposure to toxins is a perfect atmosphere to develop chronic inflammation. And, as you know, chronic inflammation lies at the heart of so many 21st-century diseases, from cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune disorders, diabetes and cancer.
But by eating just a handful of walnuts - several times per week - we can help fight off this toxin-based inflammation. In fact, Dr. Vincent M. Pedre, a Board-Certified Internist says, "the primary polyphenol in walnuts is pedunculagin, an ellagitannin. Ellagitannins provide well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that can protect against cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases."
And, on top of its anti-inflammatory effects, most people would be quite surprised at the added benefits of eating walnuts. Let's dive a little deeper into this topic.
Walnuts have a strong prebiotic potential to improve gut health
In a recent study, researchers discovered that eating walnuts - 43 grams a day (about one half of a cup), helped participants to consume less food daily, both carbohydrate and fat-rich foods. Not only this, but consuming walnuts helped to is positively affect the gut microbiome, increasing both the quality and quantity of good bacteria.
Why is this important? I'm glad you asked. :)
Certain people (depending on their eating history - over generations) digest some foods better than others. For example, Asians tend to derive great health benefits from eating seaweed like, wakame and nori. Scandinavians tend to absorb more nutrients from their locally-sourced dairy products. Of course, another healthy reality of most "traditional (locally grown) foods" is the lower presence of toxins compared to more commercially-produced varieties of the same food.
Weight loss and weight gain are also tied to our genetic tendencies, daily food habits and the diversity of intestinal bacteria in our gut. In fact, as Dr. Trushna Bhatt notes:
Our likelihood of weight loss or gain is also linked to our intestinal bacteria. In some people, bacteria extract more calories from the same food and the hormones that make us feel full are linked to the activity of the microbiome. It's too early to blame these tiny creatures for our weight gain, but we are on the path to understanding that our body's relationship with food is not as simple as we thought.
Certain nationalities utilize food as energy better than others, meaning they run on fat or sugar more easily than others. Again, it just makes sense that our eating habits - as well as the quality of our food choices, have a profound effect on our overall health.
Simply put, walnuts can positively impact our gut bacteria and improve the way we absorb nutrients from the foods we eat.
Why walnuts offer anticancer benefits
Did you know that walnuts are rich in peduncuoagin? The body uses this phytonutrient to create a compound called urolithins - which binds to estrogen - that can cause estrogen-based cancers and helps to flush them out of the body.
Breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and prostate cancer are often caused by estrogen-dominance - a condition caused by too many toxins, emotional issues and nutritional deficiencies. All of which are pro-inflammatory.
Bottom line, living a more anti-inflammatory lifestyle - including the addition of eating walnuts, as part of a healthy (organic) diet will greatly reduce your risk of unwanted exposure to disease-causing chemicals.
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