You cannot really go wrong when choosing nuts to eat. They are a reliable main source of nutrition and have many health benefits you can enjoy when you eat different types of nuts. One such example are walnuts, which have been used for centuries to treat a huge variety of disorders and health problems, from baldness and headaches to depression.
Lately, it has been discovered that walnuts are an effective weapon against cancer. During an age in which cancer diagnoses are increasing every day and there are very few reliable treatment options, there is something reassuring in knowing that something as simple as a handful of walnuts can make a difference.
How Walnuts Help You
As we learn about the health benefits of walnuts, it is obvious that they should be regarded as a part of any cancer fighting diet. Walnuts are good for your heart and your brain; they improve male fertility, keep your waistline in check and are recommended for diabetes. How do they manage all of that? Here are some of the essential ingredients stored in the walnut that explain why it is so good for you:
Antioxidants – these substances stop the growth and proliferation of cancerous cells and tumors by destroying free radicals;
Omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids bring numerous benefits. They reduce inflammation and vascular occlusion and have been linked to the prevention of breast cancer in other studies. They are also an excellent source of fat, since they do not have the saturated fat found in other oils;
Phytosterols – is a plant compound that has been found to slow and even stop the growth of cancerous tumor cells;
Melatonin – known as the natural sleep hormone it regulates your body clock and other hormones;
Gallic Acid – found in the slightly bitter-tasting thin skin outside the walnut kernel, gallic acid has antifungal properties and is toxic to cancer cells.
How Walnuts Fight Cancer
Walnut consumption slows the growth of prostate cancer in mice, and has beneficial effects on multiple genes related to the control of tumor growth and metabolism, researchers have found. Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 American men. Its frequency is only second to skin cancer. The disease is one in which environmental factors, especially diet, play an important role.
The study shows that when mice with prostate tumors consume walnuts, even an amount equivalent that could easily be eaten by humans, tumor growth is controlled. By using mice genetically programmed to develop prostate cancer, researchers were able to show that walnuts had a significant impact on the disease outcome. The mice that ate the human equivalent of 2.4 ounces of whole walnuts for 18 weeks had significantly smaller and slower-growing prostate tumors compared to the control group that consumed the same amount of fat but from other sources.
Overall the whole walnut diet REDUCED prostate cancer growth by 30 to 40 percent!
Using ground-breaking DNA technology, scientists were also able to detect that walnuts had specific effects on several genes that control tumor growth and metabolism.
Furthermore, being good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, natural phytosterols and antioxidants, walnuts can help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well.
According to another study on mice published in 2009, the human equivalent of just two handfuls of walnuts a day cut the breast cancer risk in half, and slowed tumor growth by 50 percent, as well.
Adding Walnuts into Your Diet
Whether you have cancer or you are simply trying to prevent it in the future, it’s important to start getting walnuts into your diet now – and with walnuts being very tasty and making an excellent snack food, it really shouldn’t be a problem.
Instead of reaching for French fries, chips, or a candy bar, the next time you have a snack craving, grab a handful of walnuts and wash them down with a cup of green tea. However, you should avoid roasting walnuts because it reduces most of their cancer-fighting powers. Instead of croutons, use walnuts right out of the bag on salads (when chopped they make a great salad topping), include them with garlic and basil in black walnut pesto, mix them with fruits for cranberry shallot chutney, or create a healthy entrée such as vegetarian meatless loaf.
You can also bake walnuts into cookies and cakes or use them as a coating for protein. As long as your body is getting its walnut dose, it doesn’t really matter how you are getting them.