Walnuts are the new brain food for the stressed out.
A new clinical study has demonstrated the positive effects of nut consumption on mental health and overall health biomarkers.
The University of South Australia study, published in the journal Nutrients, suggests that walnuts may counteract the effects of stress on the gut microbiota during times of stress, especially in women. Lead researchers, Mauritz Herselman and Professor Larisa Bobrovskaya, say the findings add to the growing body of evidence linking walnuts to better brain and gut health.
Eighty undergraduate students, divided into treatment and control groups, underwent clinical evaluation at three intervals: at the beginning of a 13-week undergraduate semester, during the exam period, and two weeks after the exam period. Those in the treatment group were given nuts to consume daily for 16 weeks. “We found that those who consumed about half a cup of nuts per day showed improvements in (self-reported) mental health indicators. Walnut consumers also showed improvement in metabolic biomarkers and overall sleep quality over the long term.
Students in the control group reported increased levels of stress and depression ahead of exams, while those in the treatment group did not. The nut eaters also experienced a significant drop in feelings associated with depression between their first and last visit, compared to controls. Previous research has shown that walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone), polyphenols, folate and vitamin E, all of which support brain and gut health. “We have shown that consuming nuts during times of stress can improve the mental health and general well-being of college students, as well as being a healthy snack and a versatile ingredient in many recipes.