Walnut staves off heart disease, cancer and dementia

Eating a small bag of walnuts a day can reduce our risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia, according to new research.

Just two ounces – about 28 walnut halves, or a small bag – improve digestive health by nourishing friendly bacteria in the gut, helping them multiply. 

The tasty nuts have been hailed a ‘superfood’ for years – but exactly why they are so good for us has been a mystery.

Now an industry-funded experiment on rats has shed light on the reason why – they promote the growth of good bacteria which have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Chronic inflammation is now considered to be central – among other factors – to many illnesses including these three diseases.

Eating two ounces of walnuts a day is said to improve our heart and brain health and reduce our risk of cancer (file photo)

Our microflora has also increasingly been linked to many aspects of health including aging, arthritis, depression, cancer and heart conditions.

Physiologist Professor Lauri Byerley, of Louisiana State University, said: ‘The health of the gut is related to overall health in the rest of the body.

‘Our study is showing walnuts change the gut, which could help explain why there are other positive health benefits to eating walnuts such as heart and brain health.’


Sales of prebiotics, a new type of dietary supplement that boosts the bacteria in the gut, have soared in recent years.

Unlike pro-biotics, ‘live’ bacteria products which add healthy flora to the gut, prebiotics don’t replace bacteria but help feed up the ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive tract.

A form of natural, indigestible starch found in small quantities in foods such as banana, onions, leeks, asparagus and jerusalem artichokes, prebiotics can be added to a wider selection of foods than probiotics because they do not have the same storage problems as ‘live’ products.

Prebiotics are available in…

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