Walnuts on their own have been shown to offer a variety of health benefits. However, some benefits related to inflammation and metabolism may be even better when this omega-3 rich nut is paired with select other whole foods, according to new animal research published in the Journal of Nutrition. The study evaluated the consumption of walnuts in combination with a number of other whole foods in a typical American diet to measure potential health benefits. The three foods with the strongest health outcomes when paired with walnuts were cherries, raspberries and green tea. The researchers saw positive changes such as decreased inflammation and improved carbohydrate and fat metabolism.
Mice were fed one of four diet plans for nine weeks: a high fat diet; a low-fat diet; a high-fat diet supplemented with walnuts; or a high-fat diet supplemented with walnuts and one other whole food including blueberries, cherries, raspberries, apples, cranberries, tart cherries, broccoli sprouts, olive oil, soy protein, or green tea.
After nine weeks, walnut consumption with a high-fat, Western-style style diet caused changes in parameters related to obesity and metabolism, such as hepatic fat levels, gene expression patterns, and fatty acid levels. The addition of a second whole food with walnuts produced additional changes related to decreased inflammation and improved fat and carbohydrate metabolism. These changes occurred with achievable servings sizes of 1.5 servings of each food per day (1.5 oz. of walnuts).
As with any study, limitations should be considered. This study was performed on animals, so findings cannot yet be correlated to humans. Animal studies are provided as background and used to formulate hypotheses for additional research needed to determine the effects on humans.