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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

This snack food is a powerful cancer-fighter

Cancer Defeated Publications

Two Handfuls a Day Keeps Cancer at Bay

    New research underscores that walnuts have a unique power to inhibit certain types of cancer. We've written about walnuts before, but the news just keeps getting better. This food is starting to stand out as one of the best steps you can take to avoid cancer. Keep reading and you'll see why...

Continued below. . .

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    The most recent walnut study was reported by the journal Cancer Investigation. University of Texas Health Science Center researchers started with mice genetically programmed to develop prostate cancer. In most cases, these mice develop tumors within three or four weeks of receiving an injection of prostate cancer cells.

    But after being put on a high-walnut diet, "We found the results to be stunning…" said senior study author Russel Reiter, PhD. Of the mice consuming a walnut-enriched diet, only 18 percent developed prostate tumors. Compare this with 44 percent of mice in the control group that developed tumors. Eating walnuts cut the risk of cancer in these mice by nearly 60 percent. And that risk was exceptionally high in these animals.

    Plus, the average tumor size from the walnut-eating group was about a quarter the size of tumors in the control group. The mice who ate walnuts got fewer tumors AND much smaller tumors.

    Even more exciting, this research underscores earlier findings on the benefits of walnuts when it comes to fighting breast cancer. Back in 2011, researchers at Marshall University Medical School ran a study in which walnut-fed mice were injected with human breast cancer cells. The results were similar to those in the prostate study: fewer and smaller tumors in the walnut-eating group, with tumor growth slowed by as much as 50 percent.

    The results in both groups of mice were impressive considering the mice had preexisting genetic mutations that prompt high cancer rates. Yet, walnut consumption still reduced that risk.
Walnuts thwart multiple health problems
    This latest news is consistent with several other reports that praise the healing benefits of nuts. In another recent study, the journal BMC Medicine stated that folks who eat nuts more than three times a week have a lower risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular disease.

    These findings were based on a longitudinal study conducted in Spain where older folks followed a diet supplemented with either extra virgin olive oil or nuts, and were then compared to a control group.

    The people who ate the nuts had a lower body mass index (BMI) and smaller waist, on average. And they were much less likely to develop Type II diabetes or hypertension. In general, people in the nut-eating group had a 39 percent lower mortality. Those who ate walnuts in particular had a 45 percent lower mortality.

    According to Spanish professor Jordi Salas-Salvado, it is unknown how nuts, and walnuts in particular, can add years to your life. Though he did point out that walnuts have high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and other phytochemicals, along with other nutritional bonuses like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Stunning anti-cancer benefits
    In terms of how and why walnuts are so effective at preventing cancer, one theory is that they contain compounds that easily alter gene activity, and especially where cancer development is concerned.

    What we do know is that walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats as well as antioxidants and various plant chemicals. In fact, they're chock full of antioxidants, with levels higher than those found in most other frequently-recommended foods, including strawberries, coffee, cranberries, pecans, and blueberries (walnuts are surpassed only by blackberries in terms of antioxidant content). Walnuts are especially rich in one well-known antioxidant, vitamin E, which appears to be a major factor in decreasing tumor growth.

    Their shockingly high level of ALA — alpha-linolenic acid — makes walnuts unique among other nuts. ALA is a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid needed by the human body. In fact, walnuts are the only nut with significantly high levels of ALA, beating out almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and pecans. And though most nuts have monounsaturated fats, walnuts are the only ones made mostly of polyunsaturated fat.

    By the way, don't get too hung up on the "fatty" side of walnuts. Most nutritionists and weight-loss experts now agree that carbs wreak havoc on your health much more than fats, and eating healthy fats can leave you much more satisfied for longer, so overall you end up eating less. We've been brainwashed about saturated fats. Many of them — especially those derived from plants — are the most nutritious foods you could possibly eat.

    Other beneficial nutrients in walnuts are phytosterols and melatonin. The natural phytosterols and antioxidants found in walnuts have powerful free-radical scavenging abilities that thwart the spread of cancer. Also, in terms of slowing breast cancer, phytosterols are known to bind to estrogen receptors, which slows the growth of breast cancers, especially those fueled by estrogen.
A delicious (and easy) way to get extra nutrition
    Where do you go from here? That's simple. Eat two handfuls of walnuts a day as part of your regular diet. They're the perfect go-to snack, with a long shelf-life and no preparation needed. You don't have to eat them plain, either—just add them to a salad, a vegetable dish, or a fruit mixture. Plus, they're a local snack. Around 38 percent of all walnuts are grown in the U.S., and almost 90 percent of those come from walnut trees in California.

    Make a point of eating them daily, or at least several times a week, and there's a good chance you'll either prevent or delay getting struck by cancer—prostate and breast in particular. I eat large amounts of several kinds of nuts myself, including walnuts. Eat them raw — unsalted and unroasted — for maximum nutritional value. Roasting very likely destroys valuable nutrients, and I like them better raw, anyway.

    Lately I've been taking advantage of almond butter and cashew butter sold at Whole Foods. They're similar to peanut butter, but made from other nuts. The store makes almond and cashew butters fresh on the premises with no preservatives or sugar -- and they're absolutely delicious.

    They seem to keep almost indefinitely, although I refrigerate them just to be on the safe side. They do solidify and lose their creamy texture when chilled, so I take them out of the fridge about an hour before eating to let them warm up. Unfortunately, the store doesn't offer walnut butter.

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