While they are not often thought of as a “super food” in the way that other berries or dark leafy green vegetables might be, pecans carry a wide range of different health benefits due to the abundance of antioxidants such as vitamin E that are found within them. They also contain high levels of magnesium, potassium, zinc, and fiber, making them a healthy snack on the go. Yet new research suggests that pecans may also help in preventing damage to the nervous system. A study that takes a look at the correlation of pecans and an improvement in nervous system degeneration was recently published in the Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research journal.
In this study, researchers from the University of Massachusetts in the town of Lowell used mice broken into three separate dietary groups to see what the effects of pecans might be on nervous system degeneration. Two of the groups of mice were fed different servings of pecans, while the third group was fed a control diet that contained no pecans at all. These mice were genetically altered, so that they showed the signs of nervous system degeneration. Their motor neuron functions were then examined both before and after eating their respective diets each time.
The group of mice that was fed the most pecan-heavy diet showed the highest levels of performance, when they were put through tests after eating. The group that had no pecans fared the worst, while the middle group that only had a moderate level of pecans in the diet performed moderately as a result. This showed that despite the nervous system degeneration that was introduced into the mice through genetic modification, the ones that were fed pecans were still able to perform.
According to Thomas B. Shea, who is director of the Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research, these findings can indicate that there is a direct correlation between the antioxidant benefits of pecans and how well you may be able to perform on tests, despite the effects of nervous system degeneration. This study may bode well for those who are looking for natural treatments to fight neurological disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or other degenerative diseases that don’t yet have a cure. While further trials are needed in humans, this study that was taken out on mice has helped show that there is indeed a positive effect shown by the consumption of pecans.
Yet there are benefits to eating pecans that go beyond their effect on nervous system degeneration. Rich in fiber as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they can help keep you full for longer periods of time than other snack foods, which means that they are ideal for snacking on throughout the day. They can help boost cognitive power shortly after eating them, and so are recommended by scientists and nutritionists as a good food to eat before performance tests, whether or not you normally have difficulty with these.