Including walnuts in your diet may help reduce your risk of breast cancer, researchers from Marshall University in the US have found.
The study, which was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that when mice were given a small amount of walnuts every day, they developed breast cancer at less than half the rate of the group with a typical diet.
The number of tumours the mice developed and their sizes were also significantly smaller.
"These reductions are particularly important when you consider that the mice were genetically programmed to develop cancer at a high rate," said Professor Elaine Hardman, who led the study. "We were able to reduce the risk for cancer even in the presence of a pre-existing genetic mutation."
By using genetic analysis, researchers found that walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 and Vitamin E, changed the activity of multiple genes that are relevant to breast cancer in both mice and humans.
Professor Hardman said that this study illustrated just how important our diet plays in our overall health.
"Food is important medicine in our diet," she said. "What we put into our bodies makes a big difference it determines how the body functions, our reaction to illness and health. The simple stuff really works: eat right, get off the couch, and turn off the TV.
"The results of this study indicate that increased consumption of walnut could be part of a healthy diet and reduce risk for cancer in future generations," she said.
Cancer-proofing your diet
The Cancer Council of Australia makes the following diet recommendations for top health and a reduced cancer risk:
- Eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day.
- Eat a variety of raw and cooked vegetables, fruit and legumes (eg: dried beans, lentils).
- Eat plenty of cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain.
Eat red meat no more than three to four times a week. On the other days choose fish, poultry, dried or canned beans or lentils.
- Limit processed or cured meats (eg: frankfurters, bacon and ham).
- Choose foods low in salt.
- Don't eat too much fat, especially saturated fat. Look for hidden fats (eg: snack foods, cakes and takeaway foods).
- Choose low-fat yoghurts, cheeses and milks.