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Published on: December 2, 2014
by Health News Digest:
The walnut is a little superfood that packs a big punch, especially when it comes to brain health. This nut has numerous health benefits since they are rich in dietary-fiber, protein, essential fats, vitamins and antioxidants.
Walnuts have been proven to prevent cancer, lower cholesterol levels for improved heart health and reduce blood pressure and stress, among other benefits. Best yet, research has suggested that walnuts also protect your brain against the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study performed at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities found that eating walnuts every day can help stave off dementia. Dr. Abha Chauhan, PhD, head of the Developmental Neuroscience laboratory at the Institute, and her research team discovered that mice that ate walnuts regularly showed significant improvements in their learning, memory and motor skills compared with mice not given the nut.
The study used both wild mice and mice genetically altered to have a predisposition for Alzheimer’s disease. They fed some of the mice a diet containing 6-9% walnuts (which is equivalent to 1-1.5 ounces of walnuts for humans per day), while another control group was not given any nuts. All of the mice were assessed on a number of skills using multiple experiments and mazes. The mice with the walnut-enriched diet performed much better than the control group in areas such as their spatial and learning abilities, psychomotor skills and coordination.
“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 Dr. Chauhan. “Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning.”
This study followed up on previous research that suggested that omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts work to provide protective benefits against oxidative damage caused by amyloid beta, a protein implicated in causing dementia. The nutritious nut also contains vitamin E, flavonoids, and anti-oxidants, which work to eradicate harmful free radicals and combat inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s.
A healthy diet is a priority in maintaining optimal brain heath. However, it is important to follow a well-rounded program to address all aspects of cognitive health including cognitive stimulation.
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