Diets that include walnuts may improve learning skills and memory in those susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study in mice.
Abha Chauhan, PhD, of the New York State Institute for Basic Research and Developmental Disabilities, and colleagues found that mice given walnuts to eat showed improvements in learning skills, memory, motor skills, and anxiety compared with mice not given the nut.
Previous studies have indicated that walnuts have various compounds that may help protect the brain, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Also, antioxidants and other compounds in the nuts fight off inflammation. Studies have also found that walnut extract may protect against oxidative damage caused by beta-amyloid protein, which has been connected to Alzheimer's.
In the newest study presented in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the researchers used both wild mice and mice genetically altered to be vulnerable to developing the disease. They fed the mice diets containing 6% or 9% walnuts before subjecting them to experiments that tested their spatial and learning ability as well as their psychomotor skills and coordination.
The amount of walnuts the mice ate is equivalent to humans eating about 1 to 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first…
Researchers at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities said experiments with Alzheimer’s-susceptible mice found that subjects that consumed walnuts showed significant improvement in their learning skills and memory compared with mice without them in their diet.
The study also found improvement in motor skills and reduction in anxiety. The mice in the experiment consumed an amount of walnuts that would be the equivalent for humans of eating about 1 to 1.5 ounces of walnuts a day.