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Walnuts for Better Thought

Walnuts have often been thought of as a "brain food," not only because of the wrinkled brain-like appearance of their shells, but because of their high concentration of omega-3 fats. Your brain is more than 60% structural fat. For your brain cells to function properly, this structural fat needs to be primarily the omega-3 fats found in walnuts, flaxseed and cold-water fish. This is because the membranes of all our cells, including our brain cells or neurons, are primarily composed of fats. Cell membranes are the gatekeepers of the cell. Anything that wants to get into or out of a cell must pass through the cell's outer membrane. And omega-3 fats, which are especially fluid and flexible, make this process a whole lot easier, thus maximizing the cell's ability to usher in nutrients while eliminating wastes--definitely a good idea, especially when the cell in question is in your brain.

Epidemiological studies in various countries including the U.S. suggest a connection between increased rates of depression and decreased omega-3 consumption, and in children, the relationship between low dietary intake of omega-3 fats and ADHD has begun to be studied. A recent Purdue University study showed that kids low in omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders, and to display behavioral problems. In the Purdue study, a greater number of behavioral problems, temper tantrums, and sleep problems were reported in subjects with lower total omega-3 fatty acid concentrations. More learning and health problems were also found in the children in the study who had lower total omega-3 fatty acid concentrations. Over 2,000 scientific studies have demonstrated the wide range of problems associated with omega-3 deficiencies. The American diet is almost devoid of omega-3s, except for nuts, such as walnuts, seeds and cold-water fish. In fact, researchers believe that about 60% of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and about 20% have so little that test methods cannot even detect any in their blood.

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