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Br J Nutr. 2012 May;107(9):1393-401. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511004302. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition and Wellness, Andrews University, 8475 University Boulevard, Marsh Hall 313, Berrien Springs, MI 49104-0210, USA.
  • 2Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, Andrews University, 4195 Administration Drive, Bell Hall 159, Berrien Springs, MI 49104, USA.
  • 3Department of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences, Andrews University, 4270 Administration Drive, Halenz Hall 327, Berrien Springs, MI 49104, USA.
  • 4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, 11234 Anderson Street, Nichol Hall 2005, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA.
  • 5Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, 11234 Anderson Street, Nichol Hall 1102, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA.


Walnuts contain a number of potentially neuroprotective compounds like vitamin E, folate, melatonin, several antioxidative polyphenols and significant amounts of n-3 α-linolenic fatty acid. The present study sought to determine the effect of walnuts on verbal and non-verbal reasoning, memory and mood. A total of sixty-four college students were randomly assigned to two treatment sequences in a crossover fashion: walnuts-placebo or placebo-walnuts. Baseline data were collected for non-verbal reasoning, verbal reasoning, memory and mood states. Data were collected again after 8 weeks of intervention. After 6 weeks of washout, the intervention groups followed the diets in reverse order. Data were collected once more at the end of the 8-week intervention period. No significant increases were detected for mood, non-verbal reasoning or memory on the walnut-supplemented diet. However, inferential verbal reasoning increased significantly by 11.2 %, indicating a medium effect size (P = 0.009; d = 0.567). In young, healthy, normal adults, walnuts do not appear to improve memory, mood or non-verbal reasoning abilities. However, walnuts may have the ability to increase inferential reasoning.

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