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Scientists Find More Evidence For Adding This Inflammation-Fighting Nut To Your Diet

Eliza Sullivan
Author:
November 11, 2020
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Walnuts, Pepitas, Hazelnuts, Almonds, and Cashews
Image by Toma Evsuvdo / Stocksy
November 11, 2020

When you think of a superfood, your mind likely jumps to goji berries or chia seeds—probably not to the humble walnut. But as research continues to show, these oddly shaped tree nuts are serious powerhouses for our health.

Previous studies have linked walnuts to improved gut and heart health, supporting healthy aging, even some potential for helping prevent breast cancer. Now, a new report has taken a broader view: considering the impact that regular walnut consumption can have on inflammation, a root cause of many different conditions.

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The impact of a walnut-enriched diet on inflammation.

In a report published last week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers returned to data from a previous study to see if inflammatory biomarkers were affected by a walnut-enriched diet. The original study, titled Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA), was first published eight years ago.

The new assessment found that incorporating walnuts into meals on a daily basis was linked to a reduction in the concentration of inflammatory biomarkers, which had been considered a "secondary outcome" in the original data. Over the course of a two-year period, the study followed up with a sample group of around 700 people aged between 63 and 79 years regarding cognitive health among other markers of aging.

Across analysis of 10 different biomarkers, this meta-analysis saw that those who engaged in the walnut diet saw a significant decrease in six of the biomarkers compared to the control group. While researchers acknowledge that another recent meta-analysis found walnuts ineffective for fighting inflammation, they point out that the data for that conclusion considered smaller sample sizes and a shorter time frame.

The wonder of the walnut and how to use it.

Though they're not necessarily considered as snackable as almonds or cashews, we've always loved walnuts for their dense nutrients—in fact, when we asked dietitians, walnuts were ranked as one of the healthiest nuts

"They contain essential omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which plays a role in brain function, has shown to help protect against heart disease and lower inflammation in the body," Alanna Waldron, R.D., told mindbodygreen—in line with what this recent report found. And though participants in this research were given plain walnuts to eat as snack, we love adding them to our favorite dishes for added nutrients.

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Our five favorite ways to eat walnuts:

  • As a topping on a salad: Try pairing them with fruit, like in this simple autumnal grilled pear salad.
  • In our breakfast bowls: Whether used in a bowl of porridge or homemade vegan yogurt, walnuts are a great way to add texture.
  • In a zero-waste pesto: Walnuts are the perfect ingredient to add to a vegan pesto, as proven by this recipe.
  • To bulk out our brownies: In these clever no-bake vegan brownies, walnuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts come together in the batter.
  • As a banana bread mix-in: Simply toss a handful or two into your go-to recipe, or start off with this Mediterranean-inspired update.
The information in this article is based on the findings of one study and is not intended to replace medical advice. While the results seem promising, more research is needed to validate the findings of this study.
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Eliza Sullivan
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.