Walnuts are good for your health and your microbiome – Short Tao

Walnuts impact gut microbiome and improve health. That’s a headline I love reading, because I really enjoy my fair share of walnuts (here are a few nutty recipes 1, 2, 3).

In a study done by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences researchers found that eating 42 grams of walnuts resulted in reduced LDL levels (the cholesterol you want to have lower, HDL you want to be on the higher side) and also impacted your gut.


The impact on the gut or rather the microbiome is a big thing. The researchers found 3 different bacteria after the walnut consumption

  • Faecalibacterium,
  • Roseburia, and
  • Clostridium.

Especially Faecalibacterium is of great interest for the researchers. In other studies done with animals, higher amounts of this bacterium resulted in lower inflammation and increased insulin sensitivity. If this would transfer to humans, it would mean it could help people having T2DM or insulin resistance.

It also shows that you don’t need to be afraid of eating fat, just make sure it’s the right kind of fat, like walnuts, avocados, olive oil, butter, MCT or coconut oil.

Avoid any form of highly processed, deodorized oil, such a canola, sunflower, soy or your typical cooking oil.

Another unexpected finding of the study was that we seem to only use 80% of the calories provided by walnuts. While the researchers state that further studies are needed, it seems that our microbiome is using the 20% to work with.

There is something called “secondary bile acids” which are produced by our gut microbes. Higher secondary bile acids are linked to higher rates of colorectal cancer. Eating walnuts reduces the amount of these secondary bile acids.

Bottom Line

Eating walnuts is healthy for your gut microbiome and can improve insulin sensitivity, thus also help with T2DM.

Overall the results of this study are another positive indicator to add plenty of healthy fats into your diet. There are two major downsides, though. One of them being that only 18 participants are included in the study (still a lot compared to many other, nutritional studies are really hard to do).

The second issue is the funding. Funding for the study was provided by USDA-ARS (Agricultural Research Service) and California Walnut Commission. Both of them obviously have a strong interest in a positive outcome. Luckily there are other studies out there too, highlighting the benefits of nut consumption.

Before you get all nuts about nuts, share this article with your friends and make them aware of these facts too. Iā€™d also like hear your thoughts on the topic.

This article is part of the Short Tao series. These are posts, articles, reviews and similar content, provided to you in a short and easy to digest format. This means, I cut to the chase quickly and aim to make it as short and informative as possible. The content, especially when it comes to science, is up to date when I publish it, but times change. So, if anything you read here has been seen changes, make sure to let me know. Ultimately, this is for your entertainment and education. Comment below to share your thoughts and make sure to let your friends know of this information too ā€“ it could change lives.

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