A study over 30 years of more than 50,000 nurses (from the Nurses Health Study) found that those who ate about a dozen walnut halves a couple of time a week reduces their risk of becoming frail or needing care when elderly.
Scientists at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, say the walnut has more protective anti-oxidants than peanuts or brazil nuts and one of a few superfoods associated with a better quality of life.
The head of the research, Francine Grodstein, said “there is a lot of research that looks at specific health conditions in ageing … but less attention to research on quality of life and ability to maintain independence with ageing”
She said the simple message from this study is that eating an overall healthy diet, including certain foods such as walnuts and other whole foods “may help women with the ability to do key everyday tasks as they age, like carrying groceries or dressing themselves”
The study, funded by the California Walnut Commission, found that women who ate lots of nuts, fruit and vegetables and avoided cakes, biscuits and takeaway food were more physically independent as they aged.
OK so it’s not just the walnuts is it! The other healthy food involved included oranges, apples, pears and leaf lettuce.
To be fair to walnuts (the ones that look like brains) there was earlier research at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania that found a handful of walnuts contained twice as many free radical fighting anti-oxidants than a handful of another commonly eaten nut. So if you eat nuts make sure they’re walnuts.
They have also been linked to a lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes. A University of California study found that eating them cut levels of a hormone implicated in prostate and breast cancer.
And a study at New York State Institute for Basic Research in Development Disabilities concluded that eating a daily handful could have a major impact on Alzheimer’s disease, reducing the risk, delaying its onset, and slowing its progression.
There is also some evidence that they can ease stress and boost your sex drive. So well worth a nibble.
Original story in The Times