Health regrets? Most of us have a few.
Maybe you were a smoker. Maybe you didn’t exercise enough or eat right.
And now that you’re older, it’s catching up to you.
Not only is your body out of shape, your mind is not as sharp as it used to be.
New research shows that one food can help seniors overcome a lifetime of health sins to delay brain aging.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Scientists split 640 older people into two groups. One ate walnuts every day. The other group ate no walnuts.
In both groups there were people who smoked or had other bad health habits. And their lifestyle had begun to take a toll on their mental abilities. They scored poorly on cognitive tests.
But when people with unhealthy habits ate walnuts, something started to change. Their rate of mental decline slowed. Compared to the non-walnut eaters, they were able to keep more of their youthful brain function.
Dr. Joan Sabate was the study’s principal investigator. She said it was the largest and most well-controlled trial ever to test the effects of nuts on cognition.
Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols. Past research shows they fight chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. These are processes that are responsible for many diseases of aging…including Alzheimer’s and other brain issues.
5 Ways Walnuts Improve Your Health
To take advantage of the benefits found in the research, you should eat one to two ounces of walnuts a day. That’s about 12-24 walnut halves. It’s the amount consumed by the study participants.
Walnuts are good not only for cognition, but other important aspects of health:
- Diabetes. One study found that eating walnuts lowered subjects’ diabetes risk by 24%. Don’t discard the waxy outer skin. That’s where most of the antioxidants are.
- Heart health. Walnuts contain high levels of alpha linoleic acid, which reduces inflammation and oxidation in arteries.
- Weight control. A study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center showed that walnuts can control your appetite to make it easier to get by on fewer calories. The part of the brain called the right insula was more active after people ate walnuts. When that part of the brain is active, you are less hungry and you make better decisions about food.
- Breast cancer. Marshall University researchers gave breast cancer patients two ounces of walnuts a day. After two weeks, their tumor genes changed. Walnuts promoted apoptosis (cancer cell death) and inhibited cancer growth.
Make a handful of walnuts a daily part of your diet. You’ll be doing your brain and body a big favor.
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