Although walnuts have been known to have health-promoting nutrients, scientists weren't able to unravel the makeup of their plant-based or phytochemicals.
Researchers at North Carolina State University's Plants for Human Health Institute have developed a method for isolating and identifying these components, according to a news release.
“Developing an efficient way to isolate compounds will enable researchers to study how they work and then connect the dots back to the health benefits of consuming walnuts,” senior researcher Mary Grace, who led the work, said in the release.
They used high-speed counter-current chromatography, which helps separate different compounds in a liquid. It is used widely in biomedicine and the food industry.
During the process, the group discovered two new compounds in the walnut that are likely to contribute to human health.
“Researching walnuts isn’t like juicing a berry, and up until now we’ve had to rely on less-than-optimal strategies to collect and investigate phytochemicals from walnuts. That’s no longer the case,” Grace said in the release.
By linking the individual phytochemicals to the processes by which they promote human health, researchers say physicians may one day be able to treat certain ailments by recommending specific amounts of walnuts.