Antioxidant-rich walnuts won’t improve memory, mood or non-verbal reasoning abilities but can increase “inferential reasoning” according to new research published in the British Journal of Nutrition(http://journals.cambridge.org/walnuts). The study conducted by researchers at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich., found that walnuts—already known for being a power food—can help increase inferential reasoning, specifically, the ability to discover true from false.
Peter Pribis, associate professor of nutrition and wellness, led the study, "Effects of Walnut Consumption on Cognitive Performance in Young Adults." Pribis, along with a team of student researchers, tested whether a short, intensive supplementation of a diet with walnuts can have an effect on memory, intuition, mood and critical thinking skills in young adults. In short—would a walnut diet improve cognitive functions?
"We discovered that students who consumed walnuts experienced improvement in critical thinking, specifically inferential reasoning," says Pribis.
Using two test groups of Andrews University students, each group ate two slices of banana bread daily for eight weeks: one group ate banana bread with ground walnuts and the other group ate banana bread without walnuts present. Each student was tested for inferential reasoning by reading a short narrative followed by five statements. Students then decided whether the statements were true, partially true, false, partially false or there was not enough information to make a judgment.
"Students consuming walnuts showed a significant improvement in inference after consuming one-half cup of walnuts daily for eight weeks," says Pribis. "Walnuts will obviously not make you a critical thinker; this comes after years of studying. However, students and young professionals in fields that involve a great deal of critical thinking or decision-making could benefit from regularly eating walnuts." Pribis concludes further research should be done to gain a deeper understanding about the impact of walnuts on cognition.
The study was funded by a grant from the California Walnut Commission. The Commission did not have any input on the study design or findings.
Founded in 1874, Andrews University is the flagship institution of higher education for the Seventh-day Adventist church, located one-half mile east of the U.S. 31 Bypass in Berrien Springs, Mich.