Eating walnuts may help protect against Alzheimer's disease, a brain disorder that leads to the destruction of memory and other important functions of the brain.
A team of American researchers found that a diet rich in walnut lowered risk of developing the brain disorder, delayed its onset, slowed down its progression or prevented the disease.
During the study, mice were fed on a diet high in walnuts -- six or nine percent of the diet consisted of the nuts.
Interestingly, mice receiving walnuts showed great improvement in various cognitive functions including learning skills; memory and motor development. The nut-based diet also reduced anxiety in the animals.
The antioxidants in walnuts are capable of fighting degeneration of brain cells, researchers, while explaining their findings, said.
"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," lead researcher Dr. Abha Chauhan, from the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), in US said in a news release. "Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning."
Several studies in the past have linked Alzheimer's disease to amyloid beta, a toxic protein found in the fatty membrane surrounding the nerve cells and produced during normal brain activity. These proteins build up into plaques and destroy brain cells and memory.
Similar to the current study, Dr Chauhan, through experiments conducted on cell culture, has earlier shown that walnut extract was highly effective in fighting beta amyloid proteins.
The new study has been reported in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
The disease strikes every 68 seconds, according to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation in the US.
Following are some foods and research-proven items that hold promising in the fight of Alzheimer's:
- Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychotic component in marijuana
- Antidepressant citalopram
- Pomegranate compound
- Fish Oil Supplements
- Cocoa extract
- Arthritis drug etanercept (Enbrel)
- Food rich in flavonoids including berries, nuts, beans, green, red vegetables
- Folate and B9 rich foods – leafy greens