Walnuts Show Potential Preventive and Therapeutic Benefits
A walnut-enriched diet every day may help reduce the risk, delay the onset, slow the progression of, or prevent Alzheimer’s disease all together.
“Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning,” said Indian-origin researcher Abha Chauhan, who was part of a group that examined the effects of dietary supplementation on mice with six percent and nine percent walnuts, that is equivalent to one ounce (28.3 gram) and 1.5 ounces (42.5 gram) per day.
The researchers found significant improvement in learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety and motor development in mice fed a walnut-enriched diet. The high antioxidant content of walnuts (3.7 mmol/ounce) may have been a contributing factor in protecting the mouse’s brain from the degeneration typically seen in Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers suggested.
Walnuts have other nutritional benefits as they contain numerous vitamins and minerals and are the only nut that contains a significant source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (2.5 grams per ounce), an omega-3 fatty acid with heart and brain-health benefits. The researchers also suggest that ALA may have played a role in improving the behavioral symptoms seen in the study.
The study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the health benefits of walnuts. For example, studies show that walnuts and other nuts boast a heart-protective benefit during times of stress. Indeed researchers at Harvard Medical School report that men can reduce cardiovascular risk by regularly eating nuts, including walnuts.
When it comes to dementia, walnuts and certain other foods, including broccoli, have been found to also significantly reduce the risk of developing the condition.
Oxidative stress and inflammation are prominent features in the Alzheimer’s disease and these “findings are very promising and could help lay the groundwork for future human studies on walnuts and Alzheimer’s disease – a disease for which there is no known cure,” Chauhan added.
Chauhan had earlier conducted cell culture study that highlighted the protective effects of walnut extract against the oxidative damage caused by amyloid beta protein. The protein is the major component of amyloid plaques that form in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.