Walnuts Have Positive Effect on Senior Nutrition

A Loma Linda University (LLU) School of Public Health study published August 23, 2017 in the online edition of the British Journal of Nutrition found that seniors who added walnuts to their diet were more likely to make other favorable modifications to their nutrient profile than seniors who did not add walnuts to their diet.

Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle and Disease Prevention at the School of Public Health, has been researching walnuts for decades and has found that daily walnut consumption reduces serum cholesterol in seniors, that walnuts are high in an omega-3 fatty acid that improves neuron function, and that they contain antioxidants and phytochemicals with anti-aging effects. Therefore he hypothesized that walnuts may have a favorable effect in delaying the well-known age-related cognitive decline among elderly people.

The goal of this study of 317 seniors over two years was to assess what happens to the overall nutrient profile of independent adults on self-selected diets that contain a noticeable amount of walnuts. A control group of seniors that did not consume walnuts as part of their diet was used for comparison.

At the end of the study, participants who ate walnuts reported significantly higher dietary intake of total protein, vegetable protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Participants in the control group that did not eat walnuts were found to have consumed significantly more carbohydrates, saturated fats, sodium and animal protein. (The two groups did not differ significantly in the intake of dietary calcium, zinc, potassium, folate or vitamins B6, B12, E and D.)

What is key is both the “walnut group” and the control group were not told what they should eat or not eat. The group that ate walnuts chose on their own to eat less fatty, starchy and sugary foods than those who did not eat walnuts. Apparently, the consumption of walnuts dampened their urge for less healthy foods. Therefore naturally occurring healthy anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, and omega-3 fatty acid in walnuts are not the only benefit of eating walnuts. Walnuts have a positive influence on your food choices.