For the elderly population at risk of developing worsening cognitive function, a new study suggests walnut consumption may lower the risk. The findings appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For the study, a team of American and Spanish researchers examined 636 elderly people living in California, United States and Barcelona, Spain. The study’s main objective was to explore the effects of walnut consumption, which has previously been proven as beneficial against oxidative stress and brain inflammation.
“We administered a comprehensive neurocognitive test battery at baseline and 2 y. Change in the global cognition composite was the primary outcome. We performed repeated structural and functional brain MRI in 108 Barcelona participants,” the study reads.
“Besides differences in nutrient intake, participants from Barcelona smoked more, were less educated, and had lower baseline neuropsychological test scores than those from Loma Linda. Walnuts were well tolerated and compliance was good,” the study’s co-authors explained.
Walnut consumption was indicated to be beneficial to the subgroups of participants at the highest risk of developing cognitive decline.
“Walnut supplementation for 2 y had no effect on cognition in healthy elders. However, brain fMRI and post hoc analyses by site suggest that walnuts might delay cognitive decline in subgroups at higher risk,” the study says.
“These encouraging but inconclusive results warrant further investigation, particularly targeting disadvantaged populations, in whom greatest benefit could be expected.”