■ It is commonly known that walnuts are good for heart health, but it’s a little known fact that this little cruncher is one of nature’s best brain foods, as well. Although sold yearlong, walnuts are harvested in the fall and are typically used in autumn recipes.
__If you are what you eat, it’s no surprise that walnuts are brainy, given their wrinkled, brainlike appearance. They have a high concentration of Omega-3 fats, which are necessary for brain function. Omega-3s make it easier for nutrients to pass through the brain’s cell membranes, while at the same time eliminating wastes.
__Epidemiological studies around the world suggest a connection between increased rates of depression and decreased Omega-3 consumption. Also, a recent study at Purdue University showed that kids with lower Omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders and display behavioral problems.
__For a good night’s sleep, try sprinkling some walnuts onto your salad or yogurt—walnuts contain melatonin, the hormone produced by the pineal gland which is involved in inducing and regulating sleep (and is also a powerful antioxidant).
__Scientists are also looking into the possibility that walnuts may help reduce the severity of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
__So if you’re looking to improve your brain function and get a better night’s sleep, crack open a few walnuts and feed your head. [bw]