Fan, N., J.L. Fusco, D.W. Rosenberg, 2023. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of walnut constituents: focus on personalized cancer prevention and the microbiome. Antioxidants. 12(5): 982. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox12050982
Walnuts have been lauded as a ‘superfood’, containing a remarkable array of natural constituents that may have additive and/or synergistic properties that contribute to reduced cancer risk. Walnuts are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs: alpha-linolenic acid, ALA), tocopherols, antioxidant polyphenols (including ellagitannins), and prebiotics, including fiber (2 g/oz). There is a growing body of evidence that walnuts may contribute in a positive way to the gut microbiome, having a prebiotic potential that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria. Studies supporting this microbiome-modifying potential include both preclinical cancer models as well as several promising human clinical trials. Mediated both directly and indirectly via its actions on the microbiome, many of the beneficial properties of walnuts are related to a range of anti-inflammatory properties, including powerful effects on the immune system. Among the most potent constituents of walnuts are the ellagitannins, primarily pedunculagin. After ingestion, the ellagitannins are hydrolyzed at low pH to release ellagic acid (EA), a non-flavonoid polyphenolic that is subsequently metabolized by the microbiota to the bioactive urolithins (hydroxydibenzo[b,d]pyran-6-ones). Several urolithins, including urolithin A, reportedly have potent anti-inflammatory properties. These properties of walnuts provide the rationale for including this tree nut as part of a healthy diet for reducing overall disease risk, including colorectal cancer. This review considers the latest information regarding the potential anti-cancer and antioxidant properties of walnuts and how they may be incorporated into the diet to provide additional health benefits.
previous abstractMixed nuts as healthy snacks: effect on tryptophan metabolism and cardiovascular risk factors.