Cultivated for thousands of years and used by everyone from Rembrandt to sketch, to the U.S. military to clean airplane parts, the humble walnut may have yet another power: maintaining brain health. A new study suggests the nuts may delay the onset and slow the progression or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Abha Chauhan, PhD, head of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), led research that found significant improvement in learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety, and motor development in mice fed a walnut-enriched diet. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and noted on sciencedaily.com.
What’s the key to the nuts’ brain power? It might be the antioxidants, suggest the researchers in a release from the journal. The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the walnuts might also have played a role.
“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. “Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning.”
The amount of walnuts given each day to the mice in the study would be the equivalent of one to one and a half ounces of the nuts for people.
Another recent study suggests a different compound, a flavanol called fisetin, found in other common foods like strawberries, cucumbers and wine, may halt memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s.