Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are a great source of these essential good fats for vegans or those who don’t eat fish. We need omega-3 fatty acids in our diet to help support the health of our heart and brain.
But not only that, walnuts are rich in a peculiarly named compound, pedunculagin. When we eat walnuts, the bacteria that naturally reside in our gut, called the microbiome, turn pedunculagin into another compound called urolithin.
Urolithins are capable of binding to oestrogen receptors. Oestrogen is a female sex hormone present in both female and male bodies, but to a much greater extent in females, and can help protect against breast cancer. This is thought to be because the drop in oestrogen that accompanies menopause can mean an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. By attaching to the oestrogen receptors, urolithins can trick the body into thinking there’s more oestrogen present than there is.
It’s important not to go overboard and eat more than a handful or so of nuts each day, as they are rich in fats. Even though they’re good fats, fats are still calorific, and if you’re trying hard to manage your weight, you could be inadvertently eating more calories than you think by snacking on walnuts and other nuts.