Walnuts add gut health to their superfood credentials

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In Louisiana, researchers found walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut and that the reshaping of the gut microbe community by adding walnuts to the diet suggests a new physiological mechanism to improve health.

“Walnuts have been called a ‘superfood’ because they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, and they contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants. Now, an additional superfood benefit of walnuts may be their beneficial changes to the gut microbiota,” said Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.

Working in a rodent model, the team added walnuts to the diet of one group, but not to the other group’s diet. In the walnut-eating group, the numbers and types of bacteria changed, as did the bacteria’s functional capacity; including a significant increase in beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus.