Walnuts: Looks like brain - Good for brain

Mom's are always right...

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The older you get the more you find out that your parents were right all along.

My mother used to say to me, "eat walnuts, it will make you smarter". When asked why or how, her response was that "because it looks like a brain." That made great sense when I was 5 years old, but as I grew older and "more educated", her reasoning sounded more and more silly.

Modern Research

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Today I stumbled upon a research article about mice studies in which a diet rich in walnuts was indeed beneficial for the brain and neuro-protective against Alzheimer's!

Researchers Muthaiya, Chauhan et al published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, their research in which mice were given what is equivalent to 1-1.5 oz daily of walnuts for humans. After a 14 month period, walnut eating mice significantly outperformed their regular-diet peers in memory, learning ability, motor coordination, and even anxiety level.

Dietary Supplementation of Walnuts Improves Memory and Learning Skills in Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease

They also described how walnuts contain high levels of antioxidants which may protect against the oxidation damage of beta-amyloid protein in Alzheimer's, as well as how the high levels of ALA omega-3 in walnuts are beneficial for the cardiovascular system and the brain. 

Chinese Medicine and Walnuts - Don't Wolf it Down!

When I was receiving my training in Chinese herbal medicine, I had learned that walnuts are a powerful source of kidney qi (肾气). Qi is Chinese medicine's term for our life energy. The kidney qi is the energy which fuels our brain. Deficiencies in kidney energy are said to influence aspects of our memory, cognition, as well as contribute to behavioral disorders such as autism. Furthermore, the kidney system is said to help regulate fear, a close cousin of anxiety that plagues many people as well as lab rats! For people who would benefit from more kidney energy, one Chinese herbal recommendation would be to eat walnuts. 

But before you scarf down a handful of walnuts, Chinese medicine has a bit more to say on the topic. The part of walnuts which supplements the kidney energy is said to be best absorbed in the throat. Therefor, people would be advised to slowly eat very little pieces of walnuts, swallowing little bits at a time, to maximize how long they are absorbed in your throat.

Eat Walnuts Slowly

Wisdom and Science

After I had studied Chinese herbalism, I had realized my mother was right about eating walnuts, although folk wisdom and time had obscured the reasoning. It's heartening and encouraging to see that today, after all these years, scientific research is helping us to better understand our bodies as well as clarifying the wisdom passed down to us through time.

Do you have any stories about the time tested wisdom of parents? Share in the comments section!