Nuts are nutrient-dense foods that contain healthy lipids, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive phytochemicals.
While the beneficial effects of nut consumption on chronic diseases, particularly cardiometabolic health, have been well established, less scientific evidence is available regarding their potential impact on gastrointestinal health.
In this narrative review, researchers summarize key findings and explore new research perspectives related to the importance of nut consumption for gastrointestinal health.
Role of Nut Structure in Digestion and Bioaccessibility
The structure of nuts, including the integrity of their cell walls, cell size, and particle size after mastication, plays a crucial role in the release of energy, nutrients, and bioactive compounds during digestion, thereby influencing their bioaccessibility.
Factors such as cell wall composition, thickness, porosity, and the stability of oil body membranes within the cells also contribute to energy extraction.
Understanding these structural aspects can provide insights into the availability of beneficial components during digestion.
Effects on Gut Microbiota Composition
As undigested nutrients and phytochemicals from nuts reach the colon, they can influence the composition of the gut microbiota.
While studies on the overall effect of nut consumption on microbial alpha- and beta-diversity have yielded inconsistent results, some evidence suggests that almond consumption may increase fecal butyrate levels.
Additionally, walnuts have shown a potential beneficial role in preventing ulcerative colitis and protecting against the development of gastric mucosal lesions.
New Research Perspectives
Continued research is needed to further elucidate the effects of nut consumption on gastrointestinal health.
Investigating the specific mechanisms by which nuts interact with gut microbiota and exploring their impact on gut barrier function and immune modulation are areas that warrant attention.
Additionally, studying the potential differences in the effects of various types of nuts on gastrointestinal health can provide valuable insights for personalized dietary recommendations.
While the cardiometabolic benefits of nut consumption are well-established, the understanding of their impact on gastrointestinal health is still evolving.
The structure of nuts plays a crucial role in their digestion and bioaccessibility, affecting the release of nutrients and bioactive compounds.
Although the effects of nut consumption on gut microbiota composition are not yet fully understood, some evidence suggests potential benefits, such as increased fecal butyrate levels and protection against certain gastrointestinal conditions.
Further research is needed to delve into the mechanisms underlying these effects and explore the variations among different types of nuts.
Overall, incorporating nuts into a balanced diet may contribute to promoting gastrointestinal health, and future studies can help refine dietary recommendations in this regard.
The study was published in Nutrients.
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