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Health Benefit of Eating Walnuts

Walnuts are round, single-seeded stone fruits that grow from the walnut tree. They are a good source of healthful fats, protein, and fibre. They may enhance heart and bone health and help in weight management, among other benefits.

Researchers found that eating walnuts daily as part of a healthy diet was associated with increases in certain bacteria that can help promote health. Additionally, those changes in gut bacteria were associated with improvements in some risk factors for heart disease.

“Replacing your usual snack — especially if it’s an unhealthy snack — with walnuts is a small change you can make to improve your diet,” Kristina Petersen, assistant research professor at Penn State. “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.

Previous research has shown that walnuts, when combined with a diet low in saturated fats, may have heart-healthy benefits. For example, previous work demonstrated that eating whole walnuts daily lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

“The walnut diet enriched a number of gut bacteria that have been associated with health benefits in the past,” Petersen said. “One of those is Roseburia, which has been associated with protection of the gut lining. We also saw enrichment in Eubacteria eligens and Butyricicoccus.”

The researchers also found that after the walnut diet, there were significant associations between changes in gut bacteria and risk factors for heart disease. Eubacterium eligens was inversely associated with changes in several different measures of blood pressure, suggesting that greater numbers of Eubacterium eligens was associated with greater reductions in those risk factors.

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