When it comes to improving gut health, diet experts often suggest trying out probiotic foods like yoghurt and kimchi.
Yet, there may be some others to now add to that list – peanuts, herbs, and spices.
According to researchers from Penn State, adding one ounce of peanuts or about a teaspoon of herbs and spices – such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme – to the diet each day may affect the composition of gut bacteria.
“It’s such a simple thing that people can do,” said Professor Penny M. Kris-Etherton. “The average American diet is far from ideal, so I think everyone could benefit by adding herbs and spices. It’s also a way of decreasing sodium in your diet but flavoring foods in a way that makes them palatable and, in fact, delicious! Taste is really a top criterion for why people choose the foods they do.”
For the peanut study, the researchers compared the effects of snacking on 28 grams of peanuts per day, versus a higher carbohydrate snack – crackers and cheese.
At the end of six weeks, participants who ate the peanut snack showed an increased abundance of Ruminococcaceae, a group of bacteria linked to healthy liver metabolism and immune function.
As for the herbs and spices, the team reported those who had medium and high doses – roughly three-quarters to one and a half teaspoons per day – showed an increase in gut bacteria diversity, including a rise in Ruminococcaceae.
“Research has shown that people who have a lot of different microbes have better health, and a better diet, than those who don’t have much bacterial diversity,” she added.
Full study results have been published in Clinical Nutrition and The Journal of Nutrition.