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Daily Science   “Walnuts have been called a ‘superfood’ because they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linoleic acid and fiber, and they contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants,” says Dr. Lauri Byerley, an Associate Professor of Physiology at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. She and her research team have discovered that an additional superfood benefit of walnuts may be their beneficial changes to the gut microbiota.” The finds are published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, available online.

The research team added walnuts to one group of rodents, a second group received none They then measured the types and numbers of gut bacteria in the descending colon and compared the results.. In the walnut-eating group, the numbers and types of bacteria changed, as did the bacteria’s functional capacity. The researchers reported a significant increase in beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus. Walnuts also increased several other bacteria which suggests that walnuts may act as a prebiotic. Dr. Byerly noted that “Gut health is an emerging research area, and researchers are finding that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes.”.

The LSU researchers concluded that the reshaping of the gut microbe community by adding walnuts to the diet suggests a new physiological mechanism to improve health. Eating walnuts has already been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk, slower tumor growth in animals and improved brain health.