Eating a handful of walnuts per day could help slow down the growth of cancer tumours, a study suggests.
Researchers from the US believe omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants, vitamin and minerals found in walnuts may help to reduce inflammation in bowel cancer cells.
They found when mice with tumours ate a diet including walnuts, they experienced reduced blood supply to the their tumours. This resulted in slower tumour growth.
To draw their conclusions, scientists at Harvard Medical School split mice into two groups.
Group one was fed a balanced diet that included the equivalent of two servings (2 ounces) per day of walnuts for humans, while group two received a similar diet, but with no walnuts.
When tumour tissue was analysed, tumours of mice who had been fed walnuts contained 10 times the amount of omega-3, including plant-based alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), when compared to tumour tissue of mice who did not eat walnuts.
The researchers found that a smaller tumour size was associated with greater percentage of omega-3, suggesting that ALA may help slow the growth process of tumours and provide a protective benefit.
The study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry and isn't the first to suggest food can have a impact on bowel cancer.
Earlier this year, a study from Loma Linda University in California found eating a pescetarian diet may significantly lower your risk of bowel cancer.
The researchers examined the diets of more than 77,000 people over the course of seven years and found that people who ate fish and vegetables - but no meat - were 43% less likely to develop the cancer than meat-eaters.
Vegetarians had a 20% lower risk, while vegans had a 16% lower risk when compared to meat-eaters.
"This study will contribute to the body of evidence on dietary risk associated with different food types," the NHS commented at the time.
"But on its own it does not prove that fish consumption decreases the risk of bowel cancer."