Research from LSU Health New Orleans suggests walnuts may promote health by helping good bacteria grow in your gut. Lead researcher Dr. Lauri Byerley says walnuts can help promote good bacteria growth in your digestive organs.
“Probably it’s the fiber that’s getting into the colon, and that’s where most of the bacteria are. They’re digesting that fiber, and that’s where it’s having its health impact potentially,” Byerley said.
Byerley says walnuts in the diet increase the number of microbes present in the bowels. She says they also noticed the types of bacteria present were related to probiotics. She says a more diverse bacteria community in the gut can lead to better health.
“As a prebiotic they can enter the colon, and that’s where they can promote the growth of the probiotic type bacteria,” Byerley said.
Byerley says walnuts are linked to better health outcomes because they contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. But she says that doesn’t mean eating more walnuts will lead to better health. She says one explanation would be that people who have more walnuts in their diets tend to eat healthier.
“If you have a poor diet and you’re adding walnuts to it, we have no studies to support whether that would all of the sudden change your risk for cardiovascular disease, your brain health, or your inflammatory bowel disease,” Byerley said.