In Illinois, diets rich in nuts, such as walnuts, do play a role in heart health and in reducing colorectal cancer. According to the University of Illinois study, the way walnuts impact the gut microbiome – the collection of trillions of microbes or bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract – may be behind some of those health benefits.
“We found that when you consume walnuts it increases microbes that produce butyrate, a beneficial metabolite for colonic health. So the interaction of walnuts with the microbiome is helping to produce some of those health effects,” says Hannah Holscher, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at U of I, and lead author of the study.
The study shows that consuming walnuts not only impacted the gut microbiota and microbial derived secondary bile acids, but also reduced LDL-cholesterol levels in the adults participating in the study; good news for cardio, metabolic, and gastrointestinal health.