Walnuts may slow cognitive decline in many older people

In a new study, researchers found that eating walnuts may help slow cognitive decline in at-risk groups of the elderly population.

The research was conducted by a team in California and Spain.

Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols, which have previously been found to counteract oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are drivers of cognitive decline.

Previously, the team had discovered the cholesterol-lowering effect of nut consumption—specifically walnuts—with lowering blood cholesterol.

Subsequently, findings from Loma Linda University researchers have linked nut consumption to lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In this study, the team examined nearly 640 free-living elders in Loma Linda, California, USA, and in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

For two years, the test group included walnuts in their daily diet, and the control group abstained from walnuts.

The team found that walnut consumption by healthy, elderly adults had little effect on cognitive function over two years, but it had a greater effect on elderly adults who had smoked more and had lower baseline neuropsychological test scores.

They say that the study could lead to better outcomes when conducted over longer periods of time

Further work is definitely warranted based on the findings, especially for disadvantaged populations, who may have the most to gain from incorporating walnuts and other nuts into their diet.

The lead author of the study is Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health.

The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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