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Walnuts linked to healthy ageing

Walnuts linked to healthy ageing

Women who eat a handful of walnuts each week are more active and independent in old age, research suggests.

An investigation of more than 50,000 nurses over 30 years found that those who ate about a dozen walnut halves - approximately a quarter of a cup - once or twice a week reduced their risk of becoming frail or needing care when elderly.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, say that the walnut, which is a rich source of energy and excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, is among few superfoods associated with a better quality of life.

Their study compared dietary habits to physical impairment in older Americans. They also found that a higher intake of vegetables and fruits, a lower intake of sugary beverages, trans-fats, and sodium, and a moderate alcohol intake, were each significantly associated with reduced rates of physical impairment. The best relationship between independence and food at a later stage in life, according to the study, was the weekly consumption of fruits such as apples, oranges and pears, and romaine or leaf lettuce, as well as walnuts.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. These unique traits are what researchers think help contribute to a healthier lifestyle when included as part of a weekly diet.

"Little research has been done on how diet impacts physical function later in life. We study the connection between diet and many other aspects of health, but we don't know much about diet and mobility," said Dr. Francine Grodstein, ScD, senior author on the study. "We wanted to look at diet patterns and try to learn how our overall diet impacts our physical function as we get older."

Dr Grodstein adds that further research is needed to better understand dietary and lifestyle factors that influence physical function.

The study was first published in the Journal of Nutrition.

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