walnuts-heart-CC-Martin Fisch

A daily dose of walnuts might reduce, slow or delay, or prevent the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities.

The study, published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, shows the super-nut has drastically improved the learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety, and motor development in Alzheimer-prone mice that were fed a walnut-enriched diet.

The research team, led by Dr. Abha Chauhan, notes that a high level of antioxidant extract in walnuts may have a protective effect against oxidative stress caused by beta-amyloid proteins, which are suspected in promoting brain degeneration common in Alzheimer’s patients, which number at more than five million in the U.S.

“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,” Chauhan said in the study.

“Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning.”

The study also found the mice had improved motor skills and reduced anxiety. The mice in the experiment consumed an amount of walnuts that would be about 1 to 1.5 ounces of walnuts a day for a human. To act as controls, other Alzheimer’s mouse models were fed a diet without walnuts.

At the end of the study, the mice in both subject groups were tested to assess their learning abilities, spatial memory, motor coordination and anxiety-related behavior. The researchers found that the Alzheimer’s mouse models fed the walnut-enriched diets showed significant improvements in all areas, compared with Alzheimer’s mouse models fed the control diet.

An article detailing these findings, “Dietary Supplementation of Walnuts Improves Memory Deficits and Learning Skills in Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease,” has been published in the October issue of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2014).

This study was supported in part by funds from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the California Walnut Commission.

Photo by Martin Fisch (CC license)


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