Walnuts against Alzheimer's! These delicious oily fruits, in fact, help preserve cognitive function by counteracting neurodegeneration. This emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the journal Nutrients by a group of German scientists (Esselun et al, Nutrients, 2022).
Alzheimer's, causes and prevention
Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the simultaneous presence of accumulations in the brain of beta amyloid proteins and inflammation. However, even before there are any signs of this disease, the mitochondria, which are small organelles that produce energy in cells, start not functioning as they should and this opens the way for the formation of beta amyloid aggregates at a later time. Therefore, being able to preserve the functionality of mitochondria means preventing neurodegeneration. Following the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to reduce the risk of developing neurodegeneration. Walnuts are included in the Mediterranean Diet, are anti-inflammatory and rich in alpha linoleic acid, an omega 3 that can potentially improve the functioning of mitochondria. Therefore, the scientists of the study we are talking about today have wondered if walnuts can help in the prevention of Alzheimer's.
Walnuts protect the brain, the experiment
Researchers have recreated Alzheimer's disease in the laboratory with diseased cells surrounded by aggregates of beta amyloid proteins. Later, these cells were brought into contact with walnut oil. Well, what emerged is that walnut oil has been able to improve the functionality of the cells' mitochondria, since the production of ATP has increased. ATP is the stored energy produced by the mitochondria, which will then be used by the cells. So walnut oil was able to act on one of the first alarm bells of Alzheimer's disease. Not only that, walnut oil has also made it possible to reduce the accumulation of beta amyloid proteins and to increase the growth of axons, which are extensions of neurons with the function of conducting the nerve impulse. Therefore, walnuts, as well as their oil, help prevent neurodegeneration.
This research is still in its infancy and much still needs to be done. First, the study will have to take place not in the laboratory but on humans and then whole walnuts and not just oil should be considered. However, the results are currently very promising and certainly including walnuts in a varied and balanced diet is a good choice to protect the brain.