Despite their high fat content, it’s long been understood that nuts can still have their place in a healthy diet. In fact, we now know that the ‘carb-craze’ of the last few decades had it all wrong. Healthy fats are essential for brain and heart function plus improved nutrient absorption.
But a new study at the University of California, Davis, provides further evidence supporting earlier research results indicating that walnuts, in particular, help to reduce levels of a hormone thought to increase the incidence of prostate and breast cancer.
What did the researchers discover about walnuts?
Lead researcher and nutritionist Paul Davis and fellow researchers wrote in the Journal of Medicinal Food that investigations focusing on the benefits of walnuts show that the nuts themselves, as well as walnut oil, not only reduce excess cholesterol and sensitivity to insulin, but also decrease levels of the hormone IGF-1 – which is linked to cancer of the prostate and other malignancies.
Davis, who has been studying the heart benefits of walnuts for years, said that the high fat content exhibited by nuts does not contribute to the growth of prostate cancer. Instead, he said, walnuts had quite the opposite impact when fed to mice in the study. However, it isn’t the omega-3s acting alone that reduces cancer risk, but rather fats working in combination with whatever other substances make up walnut oil.
Why do walnuts reduce the risk of cancer?
It’s believed that decreased levels of IGF-1 restricts the cancer from growing as quickly as it normally would. In addition, avoiding excess cholesterol levels will reduce your risk of cancer, because high cholesterol levels can promote cancer cell growth.
Consumed in reasonable quantities, nuts have long been known to benefit the heart. Past research has shown nuts have the ability to reduce inflammation, which is known to be an underlying culprit behind heart disease plus many other health problems. This reduction in inflammation also allows blood vessels to dilate as necessary, reducing the opportunity for unhealthy blood pressure spikes.
But beyond heart health, it is known that inflammation also contributes to the growth of many cancers. Davis reports that it is believed walnuts interfere with the production of a protein called endothelin, which is related to both blood pressure control as well as regulation of prostate growth.
Type-2 diabetes increases your risk of cancer
According to Michael Pollak, M.D., a professor at the Department of Oncology and Director of the Cancer Prevention Research Unit at McGill University, “the trend emerging [in this area] is that the type-2 diabetes associated with high insulin levels is the biggest problem relating to cancer risk,”. But, he goes on to emphasize that the higher risk of cancer is ‘evident for everyone with prediabetes, which is a much larger group.’
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of Americans have prediabetes – which is represented by too much insulin in the blood. The consumption of unhealthy, processed oils or trans fats can lead to metabolic disorders, diabetes, obesity and many forms of cancer.
The solution is clear. Science is telling us – over and over again – to eat natural foods from their natural source to avoid chronic disease. Don’t be fooled into believing that all fats are created equal and need to be avoided. That’s a lie.
Moderate amounts of fat from grass-fed beef, eggs, coconut oil, avocados or walnuts, along with healthy sources of complex carbohydrates which come from whole grains like brown rice or millet can go a long way to preventing cancer plus many other degenerative disease conditions.