“They developed breast cancer at less than half the rate of the group with the typical diet.”
That was the remarkable finding of an animal study conducted by a research team from Marshall University in West Virginia and published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.
But the drastic drop in breast cancer development wasn’t the only thing this special diet had up its sleeve. It turns out that the cancer-prone mice who got the special chow that were unlucky enough to still develop breast cancer had fewer and smaller tumors when they did..
Walnuts are packed with healthy nutrients
I bet you’re wondering what this “special diet” consisted of, right?
Well you’re not going to believe this one. It was simply the addition of the humble walnut to their diet that caused the cancer rate to plummet.
Of course I’ve sung the praises of this remarkable healing food before, so maybe it won’t come as a total surprise.
I’ve told you before about the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and ALA that the walnut has hidden inside its shell. And I’ve explained how a regular handful of these healthy nuts could play an important role in fighting off heart disease and diabetes.
Then I wrote to you about the remarkable findings of a researcher from the American Chemical Society who had concluded that walnuts packed in more antioxidants, and higher-quality ones, than all of the other common nuts tested.
But it looks like the walnut may one day be able to update its resume with “cancer fighter.”
Marshall University researchers compared the effects of a typical mouse diet and one that contained regular English walnuts across a rodent’s entire lifespan; feeding them to mouse moms from conception all the way through weaning and then, eventually, the mouse eating the walnuts on its own as an adult.
Omega-3s and vitamin E likely behind benefits
Remarkably the walnut-eating mice developed breast cancer at a more than 50 percent lower rate than the regular-diet mice. Oh, and I also should mention that the mice used in the study were genetically programmed to develop cancer at a high rate and the walnuts performed this minor miracle despite the presence of this preexisting genetic mutation.
The amount of cancer-busting walnuts added to the test diet equates to what would be about 2 ounces per day for us… or around two fistfuls daily.
I’m guessing that about now you’re probably thinking, “Whoa, hold on a second there Alice, that’s a heck of a lot of nuts!” And, honestly, I can’t disagree with you. I love walnuts as much as the next girl, but two handfuls of walnuts day in and day out for 365 days a year might become too much for anyone’s taste buds, not to mention their wallets.
But that’s why it’s important to look at what the data from this study is actually telling us and that’s that there are ingredients within walnuts that reduce the risk of cancer and can even slow its growth.
The obvious contenders for these cancer-fighting superstars are the omega-3 fatty acids I mentioned earlier and vitamin E. And, in fact, genetic analysis done by the Marshall researchers indeed points to both nutrients as the vital cancer-thwarting ingredients in the nuts.
So go ahead and indulge in healthy walnuts, but don’t feel like you have to stick with only walnuts. You can add other omega-3 and vitamin E packed foods to your diet such as cold-water wild-caught fish, grass-fed meats, flaxseed and walnut oils, spinach, oysters and other nuts and seeds.