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Why Walnuts Are Healthy for the Elderly

By Debbie Waddell, 9:00 am on May 24, 2016

Walnuts have double the antioxidants of other nuts as well as a multitude of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, making them one of the healthiest snacks for seniors receiving Lincoln in-home care to add to their diets. Adding a mere handful to a senior’s daily intake can prove beneficial, and here are a few of the reasons why.

Decreased Cardiovascular Complications

Walnuts contain an abundance of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that plays a major role in heart health. ALA thins the blood, lowering the risk of clot development and heart attacks. It also decreases total cholesterol levels, which can aid the heart and circulatory system.

Increased Bone Protection

The anti-inflammatory elements of ALA have also been shown to promote bone health. N-telopeptides, which are collagen components detected in urine, are specific markers of bone deterioration. Eating large amounts of walnuts elevates ALA levels, leading to a lower N-telopeptide count and indicating better bone stability and less mineral loss.

Enhanced Brain Health

Walnuts are sometimes referred to as “brain food” due to their increased amount of omega-3 fatty acids. The brain is composed of 60 percent structural fat, and omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for brain cells to work correctly and enhance cognitive function. Studies also show the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts can help stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Reduced Cancer Risk

High levels of various nutrients and antioxidants are found in walnuts, including a specific type of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol, which is linked to the prevention of lung, breast, and prostate cancers. Walnuts can also lower levels of endothelin, a compound responsible for additional blood vessel inflammation. This is especially beneficial for senior men with prostate cancer who exhibit increased endothelin levels.

Better Weight Maintenance

Though walnuts offer a range of positive health benefits, some seniors may fear the possibility of unwanted weight gain. Walnuts can be high in calories due to the omega-3 fatty acids, but simply substituting them in place of less nutritional foods will not likely result in an increased calorie count. Chronic inflammation is a major cause of obesity, and the anti-inflammatory properties found in walnuts combat this, proving a small amount of walnuts eaten daily can be an effective weight management tool.

To learn more about senior nutrition, reach out to the elder care experts at Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of Parkinson’s, stroke, and Alzheimer’s care in Lincoln, Roseville, and Rocklin, and our caregivers can assist your loved one with grocery shopping, cooking, and many other important tasks. For more information and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Care Managers, call 916.226.3737 today.

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