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Walnuts Provide Brain Power Boost for Students

Published: 2011-09-20 - Updated: 2011-09-21
Author: California Walnut Commission
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
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Synopsis: Students consuming walnuts improve inferential reasoning skills the ability to discover true from false - article includes walnut bread recipe. Recently published research in the September issue of British Journal of Nutrition suggests students may want to grab a handful of walnuts before taking that next exam.

Main Digest

Recently published research in the September issue of British Journal of Nutrition suggests students may want to grab a handful of walnuts before taking that next exam.


According to the study, students consuming walnuts improved their inferential reasoning skills - the ability to discover true from false.

The study included two test groups of Andrews University students who ate two slices of banana bread daily for eight weeks:

One group ate banana bread that included 1/2 cup (2 oz) of walnuts daily

The other group ate banana bread without walnuts.

"Walnuts are a nutrient dense food that contain numerous potentially neuroprotective compounds including antioxidants, polyphenols and the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. These components may all work together to promote brain health," says lead researcher Dr. Peter Pribis. Based on his findings, he believes that "students and young professionals in fields that involve a great deal of critical thinking or decision-making could benefit from regularly eating walnuts."

More and more research is finding that consuming specific foods, being physically active and engaging in social activities may help maintain and improve cognitive health. This study adds to the evidence that supports the potential cognitive benefits of walnuts. Previous animal research published in the British Journal of Nutrition(1) found a diet containing as much as six percent walnuts (equivalent to one ounce or 1/4 cup in humans) was able to reverse age-related motor and cognitive deficits in aged rats, and a study in Neuro-chemical Research(2) suggests walnuts may protect brain cells from oxidative damage.

Banana Walnut Bread Recipe

This moist, dark banana bread is easily mixed by hand, without an electric mixer. The bananas should be very ripe.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar cup
1/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium-sized bananas)
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup California walnuts, in halves or large pieces
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the sugar, brown sugar and oil and blend with a fork or whisk until smooth. Add the mashed banana, eggs and vanilla and stir or whisk again until completely mixed. Stir in the walnuts. Set aside.

In a separate bowl combine the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Stir them together for a minute, using a fork or whisk, so they well mixed. Add to the banana mixture and stir just until the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined, with no streaks of un-blended flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake about 1 hour, then test for done-ness: A wooden skewer or sharp knife inserted into the center of the loaf should come out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs on it, but no raw batter. If necessary, bake about 5 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn the loaf out and onto a rack cool to room temperature. Store in a sealed plastic bag or container. The bread can also be well wrapped and frozen.

Makes one 9- x 5-inch loaf, or 16 - 18 slices about 1/2 inch thick

Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 3g protein, 28g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 10g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 4g monounsaturated fat, 5g polyunsaturated fat, 24mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium

Recipe Courtesy of the California Walnut Commission

California Walnut Commission - The California Walnut Commission, established in 1987, is funded by mandatory assessments of the growers. The Commission is an agency of the State of California that works in concurrence with the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The CWC is mainly involved in health research and export market development activities.

Non-Discrimination Statement - The California Walnut Board (CWB) and California Walnut Commission (CWC) prohibit discrimination in all programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance programs. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the CWB / CWC offices at (916) 922-5888. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). CWB/CWC is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

The California Walnut Board and Commission offices are located at 101 Parkshore Dr., Ste. #250, Folsom, CA 95630

(1) Willis L, Shukitt-Hale B,Cheng V, Joseph J. Dose-dependent effects of walnuts on motor and cognitive function in aged rats. Br J Nutr. 2009; 101:1140-1164.

(2) Muthaiyah B, Essa MM, Chauhan V, Chauhan A. Protective Effects of Walnut Extract Against Amyloid Beta Peptide-Induced Cell Death and Oxidative Stress in PC12 Cells. Neurochem Res. 2011 Jun 25.

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