A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut discovered that walnuts, in addition to providing several other health benefits, could help protect against ulcerative colitis.
“We are not suggesting that people with ulcerative colitis be maintained on a large walnut diet between active flares,” said researcher Dr. Daniel Rosenberg. “But, we are hoping that we’ll be able to determine the active compounds -- nutrients, phytochemicals -- in walnuts that cause protection.”
Getting the health benefits
To see the effect walnuts had on ulcerative colitis, the researchers conducted a trial experiment with mice over a two-week period in which each specimen consumed a walnut supplement.
The researchers induced ulcerative colitis in the mice using dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). By putting the mice through episodes of ulcerative colitis, the researchers were able to compare how the walnuts affected their recovery time between episodes. Ultimately, the walnuts proved to help the mice tremendously.
The researchers noted the mice’s colons healed better and faster following the two-week walnut supplement regimen, and they also noticed less damage to the colon overall in the colitis episode that immediately followed the walnut intake.
The researchers are currently in the process of testing the effectiveness of walnut’s on colitis in human participants.
Walnuts pack a punch
In a recent study, researchers from Penn State found that walnuts could be beneficial for consumers on the verge of heart disease who are looking to maintain their blood pressure.
After eating whole walnuts, the study’s participants saw better vital readings in arterial stiffness, central pressure, diastolic blood pressure, central systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and brachial pressure, all of which can help reduce the likelihood of heart disease.
“When participants ate whole walnuts, they saw greater benefits than when they consumed a diet with a similar fatty acid profile as walnuts without eating the nut itself,” said researcher Penny Kris-Etherton. “So it seems like there’s a little something extra in walnuts that are beneficial -- maybe their bioactive compounds, maybe the fiber, maybe something else -- that you don’t get in the fatty acids alone.”