The link between prostate cancer and diet has been an area heavily studied over the last decade.
Though the exact link between prostate cancer and diet isn’t clear, the American Cancer Society indicates men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products, consume a lot of calcium, and eat fewer fruits and vegetables, appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer.
Because of these findings, dietary management is a big part of treating prostate cancer. Though there are certainly foods that need to be avoided, new studies suggest there are foods that can also benefit people with prostate cancer.
According to the latest research from the University of California-Davis, walnuts or walnut oil could be one of those foods.
“For years, the US government has been on a crusade against fat, and I think it’s been to our detriment,” said lead nutritionist Paul Davis, to MNT. “Walnuts are a perfect example. While they are high in fat, their fat does not drive prostate cancer growth. In fact, walnuts do just the opposite when fed to mice.”
In the study, mice were fed either whole walnuts, walnut oil or the control fat diet for 18 weeks. The goal was to determine if the benefit to prostate health was from the actual walnuts themselves or if it was strictly from the omega-3 fatty acids contained in the walnuts.
At the end of the 18 weeks, the mice fed walnuts and walnut oil had lower cholesterol and slowed prostate cancer growth, but the control fat diet did not show the same results.
This indicated to the team that it was the walnuts, not the fatty acids, that were responsible for the decreased prostate cancer growth.
“We showed that it’s not the omega-3s by themselves, though, it could be a combination of the omega-3s with whatever else is in the walnut oil,” says Davis. “It’s becoming increasingly clear in nutrition that it’s never going to be just one thing; it’s always a combination.”
To add to the good news about walnuts and prostate cancer health, experts indicated that, for a human to see benefits, there was no need to eat an unrealistic amount of nuts.
“In our study, the mice were eating the equivalent of 2.6 oz of walnuts. You need to realize that 2.6 oz of walnuts is about 482 calories. That’s not insignificant, but it’s better than eating a serving of supersized fries, which has 610 calories,” said Davis.
“In addition to the cancer benefit, we think you also get cardiovascular benefits that other walnut research has demonstrated.”