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This Is Your Brain On Walnuts

Nov. 25, 2014|716 views
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Have you ever noticed how freshly-shelled walnuts resemble tiny little brains? Now there’s another connection between walnuts and brains: New research suggests that eating a diet enriched with walnuts may help prevent the mind-robbing disease, Alzheimer’s. Not only that, but a walnut-enriched diet may also slow the progression, delay the onset, or reduce the risk of coming down with the disease in the first place.

Nutrition scientists have noted for years that walnuts in the diet seem to improve cardiovascular health. Specifically, they improve the functioning of the delicate tissues lining the blood vessels. It is within this tissue, called the endothelium, where most cardiovascular disease begins, with the development of atherosclerosis. Research has shown that people who eat diets rich in walnuts may even enjoy a measure of additional protection against certain cancers, including prostate and other forms of cancer.

The connection between walnuts and protection against Alzheimer’s disease is based on animal research, which showed recently that mice fed walnuts were less likely to develop hallmarks of the disease. The test animals received walnuts equivalent to one to one-and-a-half ounces of walnuts per day, for a human. Investigators speculate that the high antioxidant content of walnuts may be responsible for some of the effect. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by oxidative stress and inflammation, which leads to neurological degeneration in the brain. 

“These findings are very promising and help lay the groundwork for future human studies on walnuts and Alzheimer’s disease – a disease for which there is no known cure,” said lead researcher Dr. Abha Chauhan, PhD, in a press release. “Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a rapidly escalating problem, given the aging of the baby boomers. By 2050, the population of people living with the disease is expected to balloon from about five million, presently, to about 16 million. Eating walnuts every day may be a smart strategy for avoiding becoming a part of that grim statistic. By the way, October 22 was National Nut Day in America. Proponents of the event say the best nuts for weight loss are pistachios, almonds and cashews. Walnuts take the prize for heart health.

Russel J. Reiter, Dun-Xian Tan, Lucien C. Manchester, Ahmet Korkmaz, Lorena Fuentes-Broto, W. Elaine Hardman, Sergio A. Rosales-Corral, Wenbo Qi. A Walnut-Enriched Diet Reduces the Growth of LNCaP Human Prostate Cancer Xenografts in Nude Mice. Cancer Investigation, 2013; 31 (6): 365 DOI: 10.3109/07357907.2013.800095

Marta Guasch-Ferré, Mònica Bulló, Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Emilio Ros, Dolores Corella, Ramon Estruch, Montserrat Fitó, Fernando Arós, Julia Wärnberg, Miquel Fiol, José Lapetra, Ernest Vinyoles, Rosa Lamuela-Raventós, Lluís Serra-Majem, Xavier Pintó, Valentina Ruiz-Gutierrez, Josep Basora and Jordi Salas-Salvado. Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC Medicine, 2013; 11: 164 DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-164


Tags:  health tips, prevention, chronic illness