Health

Simply Eating Walnuts May Slow Cognitive Decline In At-Risk Elderly

Senior Woman Holding Walnut

Two-year study examined walnut consumption among study groups in California and Spain.

Eating walnuts may help slow cognitive decline in at-risk groups of the elderly population, according to a study conducted by researchers in California and Spain.

The Walnuts and Healthy Aging Study, published this month in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that walnut consumption by healthy, elderly adults had little effect on cognitive function over two years, but it had greater effect on elderly adults who had smoked more and had a lower baseline neuropsychological test scores.

The study 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.

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.

Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the study’s principal investigator, said this was the largest and most well-controlled trial ever conducted on the effects of nuts on cognition.

“While this was a minor result, it could lead to better outcomes when conducted over longer periods of time,” Sabaté said. “Further investigation is definitely warranted based on our findings, especially for disadvantaged populations, who may have the most to gain from incorporating walnuts and other nuts into their diet.”

Sabaté and his research team at Loma Linda University were the first to discover the cholesterol-lowering effect of nut consumption — specifically walnuts — with lowering blood cholesterol. Findings were first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993.

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

Reference: “Effect of a 2-year diet intervention with walnuts on cognitive decline. The Walnuts And Healthy Aging (WAHA) study: a randomized controlled trial” by Aleix Sala-Vila, Cinta Valls-Pedret, Sujatha Rajaram, Nina Coll-Padrós, Montserrat Cofán, Mercè Serra-Mir, Ana M Pérez-Heras, Irene Roth, Tania M Freitas-Simoes, Mónica Doménech, Carlos Calvo, Anna López-Illamola, Edward Bitok, Natalie K Buxton, Lynnley Huey, Adam Arechiga, Keiji Oda, Grace J Lee, Dolores Corella, Lídia Vaqué-Alcázar, Roser Sala-Llonch, David Bartrés-Faz, Joan Sabaté and Emilio Ros, 7 January 2020, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz328

The Walnuts and Healthy Aging Study was funded by a grant from the California Walnut Commission, which had no input in the study design, data collection, analyses, or writing and submission of the manuscript.

Share
By
Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center

Recent Posts

Researchers Uncover Origin and Abundance of Lunar Surface Water

Recently, there has been a lot of focus on the abundance, distribution, and origin of…

February 2, 2023

Cancer Scientists Develop Powerful AI Algorithm To Help Tackle Deadly Glioblastoma

Findings could introduce new and accurate AI-based opportunities in the clinical setting, potentially leading to…

February 2, 2023

Heart Disease Breakthrough: New Immune Target Discovered

Research has identified suPAR as a protein that contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and…

February 2, 2023

How an Artificial Chemical Clock Imitates a Mysterious Property of Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are natural, internal oscillations that synchronize an organism’s behaviors and physiological processes with…

February 2, 2023

A Revolutionary New Physics Hypothesis: Three Time Dimensions, One Space Dimension

How would our world be perceived by observers moving faster than light in a vacuum?…

February 2, 2023

Cosmic Breakthrough: Accurate New Map of All the Matter in the Universe Released

Analysis combines Dark Energy Survey and South Pole Telescope data to understand evolution of universe.…

February 2, 2023