Could eating a specific type of nut improve mental health? New research suggests that consuming 2 oz of daily walnuts may do just that.
The randomized clinical trial, which included 60 university students, found that:
- After 16 weeks of consuming 2 oz of walnuts daily, students saw improvements to mental health parameters, as well as academic stress and depression, and enhanced sleep quality (in the long-term). However, these measures were self-reported.
- After this nut consumption, these students also saw an increase in metabolic markers (total protein, a-amylase, and albumin) that are associated with protection from stress.
- For females, walnut consumption may improve gut microbiota diversity. Researchers associated poor gut microbiome diversity with academic stress.
The Hearty Take
Although this study is limited by self-reported data, sample size and population, it is no surprise that walnuts may benefit mental health. They are composed of an array of phytonutrients and bioactive nutrients which may contribute to these benefits. Additionally, they are made up of healthy omega-3 ALA fats, which support cognition and the gut. Walnuts also contain tryptophan, which is used in the production of ‘serotonin,’ the happiness hormone, which may help to reduce both anxiety and depression. Have you had your daily serving of walnuts?