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Walnuts and Blueberries Help Maintain Your Brain

A new study has shown that diets containing walnuts can reverse brain aging in older rats. Previous research by the same group demonstrated that aging rats who ate a diet containing high antioxidant strawberry or blueberry extracts also showed reversals of age-related deficits in neuron function, motor function, and cognition.

The antioxidants in walnuts and blueberries help neutralize free radicals, molecules which can harm brain cells and brain function. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid, and other polyphenols that act as antioxidants.

The rats in the most recent study were fed a diet with 2 percent, 6 percent, or 9 percent walnuts, and all showed improvement. Six percent is equivalent to a human eating an ounce of walnuts each day; this is also the recommended amount to reduce harmful low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol.

Additional research has shown that walnuts and blueberries may be beneficial for treating Alzheimer's disease and reducing the cognitive decline associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

However, I consistently find that overweight patients who find it difficult to lose weight are eating almonds or other nuts. It is one of the most common reasons why people cannot lose weight, or lose weight slowly, while following a low- or no-grain diet.

Like most whole foods, nuts can have important health benefits. However, they clearly need to be used sparingly if you are one of the 65 percent of Americans who are overweight.

Also, nuts are high in omega-6 fats so if you are not supplementing your diet with fish oils it is likely your omega 6:3 ratio is about 15:1 rather than the ideal 1:1.

Blueberries, on the other hand -- especially wild blueberries -- can have a huge impact on boosting and maintaining your nutritional health by:

  • Decreasing your risk of cancer
  • Preventing heart disease and stroke by reducing the build up of so called "bad" cholesterol
  • Guarding against Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases
  • Combating aging and reversing short term memory loss
  • Relieving arthritis inflammation
  • Fighting infection and bolstering the immune system
  • Promoting urinary tract health
  • Optimizing vision health and reversing the causes of macular degeneration and blindness
  • Improving motor skills

Of course, as with all fruits and vegetables, I highly recommend you try to buy organic.