You can’t be a proponent of the Mediterranean style of eating without making a special spot for nuts in your daily diet. They’re packed with monounsaturated fatty acids which, as I just discussed, are a crucial part of keeping your heart and arteries functioning optimally.
But that’s not all they’re good for. In fact, a new study shows that one type of nut in particular may help combat one of the most devastating diseases there is— Alzheimer’s disease.
In the study, researchers fed mice with Alzheimer’s disease diets containing 6% or 9% walnuts (which is roughly the equivalent of 1 or 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day in humans). Control groups of mice, both with and without Alzheimer’s, were fed walnut-free diets. The animals were then tested for all sorts of brain tasks like spatial memory and learning ability, psychomotor coordination and anxiety-related behavior.
The walnut-eating mice showed improvements in memory, learning, anxiety and motor development compared to the Alzheimer’s disease mice on the control diet.
Why did the walnuts help? Well, inflammation and oxidative stress are two of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. And walnuts’ high antioxidant and omega-3 content work overtime to combat that.
Granted this was just an animal study (and you know how I feel about those). But nuts have enough other health benefits that the possibility of boosting brain health is really just icing on the cake (or should I say “salt on the nut”?).
So if you’re looking for a healthy but satisfying snack, go ahead and help yourself to a handful of walnuts. And I’ll continue to keep you posted as researchers crack the shell on all the benefits nuts have to offer.
“Dietary Supplementation of Walnuts Improves Memory Deficits and Learning Skills in Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease.” J Alzheimers Dis. 2014; 42(4): 1,397-1,405