Weirdly enough, kidney beans, high in fibre, are good for your kidneys. And hey, they look kind of the same.
And what about red wine? Good for the blood!
Have you ever noticed that an avocado, rich in folic acid, looks like the uterus? Boom. Folate helps reduces a woman’s chances of getting cervical dysplasia, a precancerous disease.
In this realm where science meets witch-doctoring, walnuts are probably the spookiest of all foods.
They look horribly like brains … and over the past 20 years, there has been accumulating evidence that walnuts, rich in omega-3 acids and antioxidants, might help protect brain cells from the inflammation that leads to brain-cell death.
In doing so, researchers say, walnuts may slow the spread of amyloid beta proteins that sticky up the brain in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
In a 2020 study with Alzheimer’s mice, the authors advised: “Substantial evidence from animal and human studies suggests that dietary consumption of walnuts … can improve cognitive function and also reduce the risk of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for the development of dementia.”
There is evidence, in human studies, that walnuts can protect against symptoms of depression.
As the authors of 2019 study advised: “In conclusion, a consistent association was observed between the consumption of nuts, and walnuts in particular, with fewer and less frequent depressive symptoms in a representative sample of the US population over the course of the past decade.”
They may help those who need it most
You can read here, a piece from Harvard Medical School about a study that found “even a few handfuls of walnuts per week may help promote longevity, especially among those whose diet quality isn’t great to begin with”.
A 2009 study from the US Department of Agriculture, found that adding “a moderate, but not high, amount of walnuts to an otherwise healthy diet may help older individuals improve performance on tasks that require motor and behavioural skills”.
Walnuts sometimes appear to help people who go out of their way to damage themselves.
A two-year study, published in 2020, fed walnuts to elderly populations in California and Spain.
The Californian participants overall followed a healthy diet and, at baseline, did well on neuropsychological tests. The walnut intervention had little effect on this group.
The Spanish participants were poorer, less educated, smoked more and had lower baseline test scores.
But over two years, they demonstrated a slowing in cognitive decline. This suggests that walnuts could help people at greater risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
A 2015 study from the University of California concluded that “eating walnuts may improve performance on cognitive function tests, including those for memory, concentration and information processing speed”.
This is all very promising, but these results need to be replicated in gold-standard randomised studies.