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Benefits of walnuts may be powered in part by our gut flora

A small scale study exploring the beneficial effects of walnuts has come up with some interesting findings as to the mechanisms.

It seems the beneficial effects are mediated in part by our gut microbiota, the trillions of bacteria found in our digestive system. Walnuts cholesterol lowering effects they concluded, are due in part to the way the bacteria metabolise the omega fatty acids in the walnuts. Other natural actives in walnuts are thought to be converted by the bacteria into anti-inflammatory molecules which have beneficial effects to the vascular system, whilst pro-inflammatory acids linked to gut inflammation are reduced by eating walnuts.

Whilst this area of research is in its infancy, the science suggests the humble walnut may help to slow age-related changes to the microbiota – good news as an ever clearer picture emerges of the role our gut flora plays in all aspects of our health. Reason enough to add a handful of them or a spoonful of walnut butter to your daily diet.

Whilst perfect added to muesli or cereal, the creamy nutty flavour of walnuts can really come into its own by using walnut butter as a base for a delicious pesto. Simply add your cooked pasta to a pan with some quickly fried crushed garlic, torn sage leaves, and a dollop or two of walnut butter – stir together with a glug of extra virgin olive oil and season for a tasty speedy summer supper.

Big up the walnut

Walnuts may exert their health effects via our gut microbiota new research suggests. The trillions of bacteria in our guts convert actives in the walnuts into anti-inflammatory molecules which are thought to have a positive effect on our arteries. Their established cholesterol lowering benefits may also be attributed to the way our gut bacteria process their omega 3 fats. The nuts may also be beneficial to our gut itself, helping to reduce gut inflammation. Finally it is thought walnuts could help slow age-related changes to our microbiota. What better reasons for adding a handful of them or a spoonful of walnut butter to your daily diet!

Top tip

Try adding walnut butter to your daily smoothie for a tummy loving health boost.