Walnuts: The “Thinking Person’s” Snack

When it comes to health benefits, nuts rule. Nuts of all types are good sources of fiber and heart-healthy fats that help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Eat a variety of nuts to get the most benefits, but when you grab a handful make sure it contains walnuts. According to a study, eating walnuts could help you think better.

Eating walnuts to boost brain power

Researchers at Andrews University recently discovered the brain-boosting power of walnuts. They divided 64 students into two groups. One group munched on banana bread made with walnuts every day for two months. The second group ate banana bread without walnuts for the same period of time.

At the end of the eight weeks, they gave the students a variety of cognitive tests to measure their ability to think in different ways. They discovered the students who had eaten walnuts daily for two months performed better on tests that measured inferential reasoning. Inferential reasoning is the ability to judge the accuracy of statements made when reading an article, paper or other source.

It’s unlikely that munching on walnuts is going to turn an average student into a genius, but it could be a subtle brain power booster.

Why would walnuts have this benefit?

Walnuts may boost thinking power because of their effect on blood vessel function. One study showed that walnuts increased the ability of blood vessels to relax in type 2 diabetics. This improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels in the brain and helps to lower blood pressure. You can see how this might improve the ability to think. Walnuts are as good for the blood vessels in your brain as they are for your heart.

Walnuts have other health benefits too. One study showed that participants who ate walnuts before encountering a stressful situation experienced less of a rise in blood pressure. Researchers believe it’s a compound called alpha-linolenic acid in walnuts that boosts blood vessel function and helps to lower blood pressure. Eating walnuts also lowers LDL-cholesterol levels. It’s a heart and brain-healthy snack.

The bottom line

When you’re looking for a snack, skip the chips and munch on a handful of walnuts instead. Add them to salads, oatmeal and stir chopped walnuts into a container of yogurt. Walnuts are truly the “thinking person’s” snack.

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