Walnuts and the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Walnuts and the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Animal Study Suggests Consuming Walnuts May Reduce the Risk, Delay the Onset, Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease 

Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease,[1] and the number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are expected to rapidly escalate  in coming years as the baby boom generation ages. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, emphasizing the importance of determining ways to prevent, slow or stop the disease.

The good news is promising research is suggesting that controllable factors, including exercise and diet, may help prevent or slow the development of Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer Association, regular exercise and diet may have a strong impact on brain health. The best current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, also may help protect the brain[2]. Walnuts are a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet and contain various nutrients that may benefit brain health. 

Recent animal research reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease,  examined the effect of walnuts on the memory, anxiety and learning skills in a mouse model. The animals received a diet containing 6% walnuts or 9% walnuts – equivalent to 1 or 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day in humans. Both groups on diets with walnuts resulted in a significant improvement in memory, learning ability, anxiety and motor development compared to the mice on diet without walnuts. The researchers concluded these “findings suggest that dietary supplementation of walnuts may have beneficial effects in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, slowing the progression of, or preventing Alzheimer’s disease.” Please note, due to the fact that these findings are based on an animal model, additional research is required to determine the effect on humans.

[1] http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp

[2] http://www.alz.org/research/science/alzheimers_prevention_and_risk.asp#exercise