Scientists have long touted the health benefits of walnuts. They are replete with omega-3 fatty acids, a type of lipid molecule that helps fight several types of mental illness and can reduce symptoms of inflammatory disease. Walnuts also provide antioxidants, which are good for heart health. Another component is a compound that prevents stroke by making the arteries less prone to clotting. The vitamin E in walnuts also prevents clotting, by preventing the development of plaques along artery walls. Walnuts lower blood pressure, and are particularly helpful in stopping blood pressure elevation as a response to stress, meaning walnuts can help people deal with stress better. Now researchers are adding another important item to the walnut’s resume. Walnuts may be able to help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The same plaques that vitamin E prevents on artery walls can affect the brain as well. Indeed, substances that prevent arteriosclerosis have long been known to hep prevent Alzheimer’s as well. Similarly, there has known to be a connection between omega-3s and Alzheimer’s prevention. However, the study is among the first to specifically show walnuts as being effective at preventing—or slowing—Alzheimer’s. The scientists found that the antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts improved learning and memory in laboratory animals with a condition analogous to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The specimens who had been get walnuts showed improved cognitive functions compared to their peers with the same Alzheimer’s analogue who had not been given walnuts.
Other foods also have Alzheimer’s-fighting properties. Any food rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, or both can help prevent dementia. Omega-3s are particularly important because the brain is largely composed of lipid molecules, and omega-3s provide it with the raw material it needs to function. Omega-3s are commonly associated with salmon and other fish, which are have high levels of the compounds eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Berries are another good source for omega-3s; like walnuts, they contain alpha-linoleic acid, one of the most common and most healthful of the Omega-3s. The spice turmeric, common in Indian cuisine, also has many health benefits, including fighting Alzheimer’s disease.