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Belonging to the tree nut family, walnuts contain a plethora of nutrients. Walnuts possess and provide vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fibers to the consumers. These round, single-seeded stone fruits contain carbohydrates, fiber, protein, fat, calcium, iron, and sodium and are also a rich source of polyphenols, alpha-linolenic acid, phytosterols, melatonin and tannins (ellagitannins and proanthocyanidins). (1)

Walnuts & Cancer

Walnuts are being extensively studied for their cancer-fighting abilities. It is popularly believed that cancer may be the result of inherited or novel genetic mutations but can be prevented if taken proper measures. 

Biochemicals like n-3 (ω-3) fatty acids, pedunculagin, tocopherols and β-sitosterol found in walnuts are identified to have cancer-preventing properties. 

A walnut included diet when compared with a control diet for mice showed the following results;

  1. 1. The growth rate of breast cancers implanted in nude mice got inhibited by 80%
  2. 2. In transgenic mouse models, the number of mammary gland tumours was reduced by 60%
  3. 3. The reduction in mammary glands was greater in walnuts-containing diet even when a diet containing the same amount of n-fatty acids was provided. This proved that there are components in walnuts that significantly contribute to cancer suppression.
  4. 4. Prostate, renal and colon cancer growth was slowed upon consumption of walnuts. (2)

Studies suggest that walnuts contain ellagitannins, gamma-tocopherol and melatonin which help in reducing inflammation, gene expression and oxidative stress that cumulatively cause cancer proliferation and growth (3)

Researchers conclude that consuming walnuts and other nuts in place of other less healthy alternatives reduces the risk of the development of carcinogenic cells and aids cardiovascular health (4). 

Walnuts are a rich source of polyphenol ellagitannins which are converted into urolithins that provide anti-inflammatory properties protecting individuals against colorectal cancer. Urolothins have the ability to block hormone receptors in the body, therefore, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancer. (4)


  1. 1. A study conducted at Marshall University revealed that consuming two ounces of walnuts everyday slowed the growth of breast cancer and reduced the risk of developing the aliment in other individuals. The group of women who ate walnuts following biopsy showed significant changes in the tumour gene expression. (5)
  1. 2. A study at Yale conducted in 2018 revealed survivors of colon cancer who consumed walnuts along with other nuts regularly showed a reduced risk of cancer recurrence. (5)
  1. 3. A research paper published in Nutrition and Cancer revealed that consumption of walnuts protected maternal mice and offspring from breast cancer. (6)
  1. 4. A study published in Cancer Prevention Research concluded that consuming walnuts modifies gut bacteria that are proven beneficial for colon health and suppresses colon tumours in the process (6)
  1. 5. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition identifies that the main human metabolite of walnut polyphenols, UA, inhibits the risk of development of prostate cancer. (6)


Walnuts are packed with nutrients and so it is essential to be careful and maintain the portion size. It is recommended that an individual can consume 1 ounce (7 whole walnuts) of walnuts per day. (7)


It is best advised to store shelled or unshelled walnuts in a cool dry place inside a air-tight container. You can also refrigerate walnuts to keep them fresh for up to three months. Be careful to keep and store walnuts away from food sources of strong odors as they easily absorb odors. (8)


The side effects of un-recommended consumption of walnuts are as following;

  1. 1. Gastrointestinal issues and digestive ailments (bloating, diarrhoea and stomach pain)
  2. 2. Development of allergic reaction
  3. 3. Weight gain
  4. 4. Can cause choking children
  5. 5. Can aggravate ulcers


  1. 1. Natalie Olsen. What are the health benefits of walnuts?


  1. 2. W. Elaine Hardman. Research: Walnuts Have Potential for Cancer Prevention and Treatment in Mice


  1. 3. Walnuts: Support a Cancer-Preventive Diet; American Institute for Cancer Research


  1. 4. Marsha McCulloch. 13 Proven Health Benefits of Walnuts


  1. 5. Sara Bondell. Eating Walnuts May Help Breast Cancer Patients


  1. 6. Cancer: California Walnuts


  1. 7. Reviewed by Dr Geeta Dharmatti. Walnuts: 5 Major Side Effects + How Many Walnuts To Eat


  1. 8. Daine Rellinger. Preserving fresh walnuts to maintain nutritional content 


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