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Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults

  • Peter Pribis (a1), Rudolph N. Bailey (a2), Andrew A. Russell (a2), Marcia A. Kilsby (a3), Magaly Hernandez (a1), Winston J. Craig (a1), Tevni Grajales (a2), David J. Shavlik (a4) and Joan Sabatè (a5)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 19 September 2011

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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*Corresponding author: Dr P. Pribis, fax +1 269 471 3485, email
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British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
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