November Is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month–Think Walnuts!

November Is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month–Think Walnuts!

November 6, 2014

By: Monique Bienvenue; Social Media Manager/Reporter

A new animal study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease indicates that incorporating walnuts into your diet may reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Research led by Abha Chauhan, PhD, head of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), found significant improvement in learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety, and motor development in mice fed a walnut-enriched diet. 

The researchers suggest that the high antioxidant content of walnuts (3.7 mmol/ounce) may have been a contributing factor in protecting the mouse brain from the degeneration typically seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative stress and inflammation are prominent features in this disease, which affects more than five million Americans.

“These findings are very promising and help lay the groundwork for future human studies on walnuts and Alzheimer’s disease – a disease for which there is no known cure,” said Dr. Chauhan. “Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning.”

The research group examined the effects of dietary supplementation on mice with 6 percent or 9 percent walnuts, which are equivalent to 1 ounce and 1.5 ounces per day, respectively, of walnuts in humans. This research stemmed from a previous cell culture study led by Dr. Chauhan that highlighted the protective effects of walnut extract against the oxidative damage caused by amyloid beta protein. This protein is the major component of amyloid beta protein that form in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds, and the number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are expected to rapidly escalate in coming years as the baby boom generation ages.

By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease may nearly triple, from five million to as many as 16 million. Estimated total payments in 2014 for all individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are $214 billion.

This study was supported in part by funds from the California Walnut Commission and the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

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