A diet high in walnuts may significantly decrease a person's risk of breast cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Marshall University School of Medicine and presented at a conference of the American Association for Cancer Research.
"The omega-3 fatty acid, the phytosterols and antioxidants individually have been shown to prevent or delay cancers" Hardman said. "So if you add them all together, it looks like it may be really good."
In another study, Hardman found that feeding mice a diet enriched with the same omega-3 content as that contained in the walnut dose given in the current study was not as effective as eating the whole walnut.
"It did reduce cancer incidents," she said, "but not as dramatically as the walnut-containing diet did. So it's something else other than the omega-3 in the walnut that's contributing to the suppression of cancers."
Hardman noted that the effect of the whole food was probably greater than the sum of its parts.
With dietary interventions, you see multiple mechanisms when working with the whole food, she said.
For 20 years, I’ve been telling people to eat walnuts as a superfood; now we know it’s good for mice too.
Nuts and seeds contain plant sterols and other phytochemical compounds that we are just beginning to understand their benefits. Eating the whole food guarantees we are getting all of the known and unknown beneficial micronutrients contained in these superfoods.