A new animal study conducted by University of Massachusetts researchers determined that eating a handful of pecans everyday might have long-term benefits for the nervous system and could help to prevent certain diseases that occur in the latter decades.
The researchers believe consumption might help to ward off such degenerative diseases as Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
The study’s results indicate that pecans contain Vitamin E, a naturally occurring antioxidant that may be the ingredient that helps protect the nervous system. Antioxidants are known to fight damage to cells and help prevent the development of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Antioxidants also have a positive impact on diseases of the central nervous system including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
“These findings suggest regular consumption of pecans may provide significant nutritive and antioxidant benefits for your body,” according to lead researcher Thomas She.
He and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Lowell conducted lad tabs on three groups of mice that were specifically bred for ALS studies. Their central nervous systems experience a significant decline in nerve cell function in the same manner that sufferers of the disease experience.
The mice were fed a control diet or one of two other diet that contained varying amounts of pecans ground into their food. Their motor function was tested prior to and after being placed on the diets.
The mice that consumed the largest amount of pecans in their diets exhibited a significant delay in the deterioration of their motor function, compared to those that didn’t eat any nuts.
Pecans contain the highest amounts of antioxidants of tree nuts and are listed as one of the top 15 antioxidant rich foods, according to the USDA.
The study, published in Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research, indicates pecans contain a high amount of natural antioxidants that help fight against cell damage.