Walnuts have long been known to influence the brain and in the natural health world, they’re known as a key brain food. Now, according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating walnuts regularly can significantly increase critical thinking and especially what’s called inferential reasoning.
Inferential reasoning is the ability to infer truth from other known truth and it is also the ability to deduce information based on prior experience and context. It’s sometimes thought that there are two fundamental types of reasoning. So dramatically improving one is an enormous step in the right direction, and it’s nice that it can be done by an easy dietary addition.This research was done at Andrews University and led by Peter Pribis, associate professor of nutrition and wellness. Two groups of Andrews students were used: the students either ate banana bread with ground walnuts in it or a similar looking and tasting banana bread without walnuts. Then, after eight weeks of either eating walnuts or not, the students were tested for inferential reasoning and other cognitive skills. And especially for inferential reasoning, the results were impressive.
According to Pribis, “We discovered that students who consumed walnuts experienced improvement in critical thinking, specifically inferential reasoning.” They actually found that eating a half cup of walnuts a day for eight weeks led to an 11.2 percent increase in inferential reasoning skills, which is the difference between an A or a B, or a B and a C.
According to the researchers, walnuts contain a wide number of neuroprotective compounds including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, polyphenolics, and significant amounts of a-linolenic acid, or ALA. Because ALA is the precursor for EPA and DHA, with plenty of ALA our bodies can make more EPA and DHA too.
The researchers also tell us that DHA is important for brain membrane stability, brain plasticity, and gene expression. Further, DHA increases the speed of brain signal transmissions while increasing serotonin and dopamine concentrations. Serotonin and dopamine are essential for brain and mood health and many brain medications manipulate these natural compounds.
Walnuts are also key sources of omega three fatty acids and most American diets lack these important fatty acids. Actually, the brain is almost 60 percent comprised of the structural fats that are found in walnuts.
Walnuts, like many other nuts, are great sources of protein too and they can be key replacements for animal eating. With benefits like these and other recent news that plant based vegetarian diets can prevent or reverse a variety of serious illnesses, it really seems the way to go.
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