If you want to increase the nutritional value of a meal or a snack, nuts will come in handy. They do not take much space and can be stored for a long time without refrigeration. There are so many kinds of nuts that you will definitely find ones to your liking. Besides, nuts contain plenty of nutrients that are well known to have a beneficial effect on the heart and help maintain the balance of sugar in the blood. Nuts are good, not only for the brain but also for the intestines, which has been proved during advanced research. Recently, walnuts are becoming increasingly popular due to their effect on digestion.
A walnut is similar to the brain for a reason. Its antioxidant properties affect the functioning of the psyche: It is a well-known fact that our intestines can be considered to be a kind of “second brain”. Therefore, it is not surprising that walnuts are associated, above all, with a well-functioning intestine!
Brief Information About the Nutritional Value of Walnuts
There are many different kinds of nuts, so why are walnuts the best for us? This small, shelled nut contains a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This fatty acid is considered “essential” and vital for healthy development. ALA has been proven to play an important role in reducing inflammation, lowering LDL cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease. ALA is also good for the brain. Among all seeds and nuts, only flax and chia seeds contain more omega-3 than walnuts.
One ounce of walnuts contains four grams of protein, two grams of fiber, and quite a lot of magnesium, which is necessary for the nervous system and for regulating blood sugar levels.
Useful properties and taste of walnuts speak for themselves! Walnuts have a slight taste of toasted bread and go well with sweet and salty spices, so they can be added to a wide variety of dishes. Chopped or whole nuts perfectly complement oatmeal, ground nuts can be used to make nut paste or baking flour. Moreover, walnut oil adds a rich taste and aroma to salad dressings.
It all seems delicious, doesn’t it? Now let’s take a closer look at how walnuts can improve your digestion.
Walnuts Can Improve The Gut Microbiome
The human gastrointestinal tract is populated by numerous bacteria. The growth of colonies of beneficial microbes is important for the health of the whole body. Useful intestinal microflora can ferment indigestible fibers and produce beneficial substances, short-chain fatty acids, which can directly affect the balance of blood sugar, hormonal background, appetite regulation, and weight. The high-fat diet of an American person which mainly consists of semi-finished and highly processed products does not contain enough dietary fiber. Such eating habits increase the likelihood of developing systemic inflammation, digestive tract, cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.
The good news is that scientists have proven: even a short-term introduction of additional fiber to the diet can help to improve the intestinal microbiome. In the study published in the Journal of Nutrition, a small group of healthy adults was following a balanced diet for three weeks, after which 1,5 servings (42 grams) of crushed walnuts were added to the same diet. The group was sticking to this diet for another three weeks. Researchers were monitoring various health markers, but the main focus was on the changes in the composition of the intestinal microflora. It was found that the addition of walnuts reduces the amount of pro-inflammatory bile acids produced by intestinal microbes, and, presumably, might lead to an increase in the number of “beneficial” bacteria that reduce intestinal inflammation.
In a larger study conducted on healthy women for eight weeks, it was noted that 43 grams of walnuts per day significantly changed the composition of the intestinal microflora. An increase in the population of ruminococcaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae bacteria was found, which are known for their probiotic properties and their ability to have a beneficial effect on health, especially concerning inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer.
For reference, forty-two grams of walnuts are equal to about half a glass. This amount is easy to eat in one day! Have a mixture of walnuts and dried fruits as a snack, or grind them into crude flour and use it as a breading for fish. Here are two simple ways to successfully use walnuts.
The benefits of walnuts that will help to decrease the symptoms of digestive tract diseases
Obviously, walnuts are useful for creating healthier conditions for the microbiome, and more studies actively confirm their positive effect on the specific symptoms of the digestive tract diseases, as well.
The Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by daily consumption of seeds and nuts, is presented as a dietary model for the prevention of chronic diseases. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and diet has been recognized as a powerful measure of protection against the development of this type of cancer. It is the high content of fiber, omega-3 and vitamin E in nuts that is associated with a decrease in inflammation and polyp load.
In 2016, there was a study conducted on mice to determine the effect of walnuts on the carcinogenesis of colon tumors. Walnuts were added to the mice’s diet in various amounts. Compared to mice on the control diet, the mice that received feed containing 9.4% walnuts showed a slight decrease in both the number and volume of tumors. However, there was a moderate tendency of increase in the number and size of tumors with a higher concentration of walnuts in the diet. This suggests that there may be an optimal amount of walnut consumption for cancer prevention.
Increasing The Number Of Walnuts In The Diet
Walnuts are definitely a worthwhile product! It contains omega-3 and non-digestible fibers that can positively affect intestinal health, which in turn can help prevent inflammation and more serious systemic diseases. If you do not like chewing dry walnut halves as a snack, try cooking this autumn dish according to our recipe to get your daily dose of this beneficial for the digestion superfood.
Frozen Yogurt Bark With Pumpkin And Walnuts
- A glass of Greek yogurt made of whole milk
- A quarter cup of pumpkin puree
- A quarter cup of coarsely chopped roasted walnut halves
- A tablespoon of maple syrup
Heat a small pan over medium-high heat and fry the walnut halves until they are browned, but do not burn them. Remove the walnuts from the pan, let them cool down, and then coarsely chop them.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix yogurt and pumpkin puree.
Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and spread a 6-12mm thick layer of yogurt mixture evenly with a spatula or spoon.
Sprinkle it with chopped nuts, then sprinkle maple syrup on top.
Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until solidified. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, lift the parchment paper, then carefully break the frozen yogurt bark into large pieces. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer, as they melt quickly.