Pecans could fight neurological disease

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From Green Right Now Reports

Chalk another one up for eating vegetarian protein instead of fatty or nitrite-loaded meats that come with higher environmental and health costs.

Healthy whole pecans (Photo: Priester’s Pecans of Alabama)

A recent report by the Center for Cellular Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell suggests that munching pecans every day could protect the nervous system from age-related neuron degeneration.

Not only that, it could slow the progression of diseases involving motor neuron degeneration such as amyotropic lateral schlerosis or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Why pecans? Researchers found that the antioxidant vitamin E in pecans may afford protection against the cell damage that underlies these diseases. Countless other studies have reached similar conclusions about antioxidants, showing that they can help fight or possibly delay or mitigate neuro-based diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and even other types of illness, such as cancer and heart disease.

In the study, led by Dr. Thomas B. Shea, PhD, mice bred for ALS studies (pre-selected for neurological decline) were fed one of two diets with varying amounts of crushed pecans, while control groups were fed food without pecans. Those that ate pecans showed “a significant delay” in the decline of their motor function compared with those eating no pecans. Those eating the most pecans came out with the best results.

“These findings suggest regular consumption of pecans may provide significant nutritive and antioxidant benefits for your body,” said Dr. Shea. However, he cautioned against viewing the pecan diet as a solution to Lou Gehrig’s disease and others, because mouse models don’t perfectly replicate what happens with humans. “It’s a model that’s used for ALS (research), he said. “But this is a mouse and it under a controlled situation.”

“What you can takeaway from the study is ‘Hey, they (pecans) might be good for you’,” Dr. Shea said.

The study was underwritten by the National Pecan Shellers Association, but Dr. Shea said his research was done with complete autonomy. He has been researching the effect of foods on health, in particular apples, for many years, he said.

Pecans, according to the USDA, are among the top foods with antioxidant properties. They’re also cholesterol and sodium-free — as long as they’re not baked into pecan pie. The PSA has more info at the website I Love Pecans.

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