Researchers working on matching grants from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the California Walnut Commission have found that mice who eat walnuts are less likely to develop breast tumors than those who do not.
The mice used were “specially created to develop tumors,” according to US News and World Report. But those who were fed walnuts on a daily basis had a much lower risk of breast tumors. They also had fewer glands with a tumor and smaller tumors when they were present.
According to Elaine Hardman, the study’s author, “These laboratory mice typically have 100 percent tumor incidence at five months; walnut consumption delayed those tumors by at least three weeks.”
The mice were given what would be equivalent to 2 ounces of walnuts in humans.
The research showed that the omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and phytosterols in the walnuts were what contributed to the tumor resistance.
“It is clear that walnuts contribute to a healthy diet that can reduce breast cancer,” said Hardman. She added that although the study used mice, it is a “good idea” for people to increase their own walnut consumption. How much of her opinion was swayed by who was funding the study isn’t clear. However, even without money coming from people with vested interests, findings like these wouldn’t be shocking for a whole, natural food like walnuts.
And this isn’t the first time research showed that omega-3 fatty acids should be included in a diet for breast cancer patients and for those looking to prevent the health issue. One study involving about 35,000 post-menopausal women found that women who took the supplements daily had a 32% reduced risk of developing the most common form of breast cancer.
Another study examined the relationship between omega-3 fats and breast cancer outcomes. It found that women who consumed the most EPA and DHA (omega-3s) had a 26 – 28% reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence than those women who consumed the least amount of the fats.
Other Health Benefits of Walnuts
- Rich in vitamin E, walnuts can protect against heart problems.
- The sometimes bitter skin around a shelled walnut contains 90% of the beneficial phenols in the nut, so leave the skin on!
- Tree nuts in general can reduce risks of gallstones and type 2 diabetes.
- Walnuts can improve the health of your blood vessels.
- They are satisfying and though they are relatively high in calories, studies say they aren’t linked to weight gain.
- Seven walnuts a day is enough to reap the benefits.
Walnuts are a great addition to any diet; throw them in a trail mix, on yogurt, or in a salad. Keep them natural and steer clear of those that are salted, flavored, or covered in sugar.
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