Walnuts are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat, since they have omega 3 fatty acids, which can lower inflammation in the body, boost heart health, fill you up and hold you over longer, and help your body function well. They’re a great food to incorporate if you are looking to support these areas of your health.
Yet, this is all old news! It turns out there are more reasons to love walnuts besides these qualities and benefits.
They Can Benefit Your Gut
According to a recent study at Penn State, published this month, walnuts may improve gut health in addition to protecting your heart. That means they could aid in digestion and promote good gut bacteria and flora to improve your immune system and keep you regular and less bloated. This is something we never really associated with nuts before, but researchers found that eating walnuts in the day led to increases in certain bacteria that promote health, and heart health, too.
“Substantial evidence shows that small improvements in diet greatly benefit health. Eating two to three ounces of walnuts a day as part of a healthy diet could be a good way to improve gut health and reduce the risk of heart disease,” said Kristina Petersen, assistant research professor at Penn State.
They Can Also Slow Cognitive Decline
It turns out that walnuts might also slow cognitive decline in people who are at a higher risk of impaired cognitive function with age, such as those who had smoked in the past or had lower baseline neuropsychological test scores, according to The Walnuts and Healthy Aging Study, a recent study published this month in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study looked at 640 free-living elders in Loma Linda, California, and in Barcelona, Catalonia, located in Spain. The participants who had walnuts in the diet for over two years had better cognitive health than the control group. And it makes sense since walnuts do have omega 3’s and polyphenols, which can protect the brain.
Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the study’s principal investigator, said, “While this was a minor result, it could lead to better outcomes when conducted over longer periods of time.”
He continued, “Further investigation is definitely warranted based on our findings, especially for disadvantaged populations, who may have the most to gain from incorporating walnuts and other nuts into their diet.”
Clearly walnuts are a superfood, so find ways to enjoy them in your diet. They are versatile and delicious, and based on these new findings, they’re even better for us than we even imagined.