A recent study published in the journal Nutrients examined the effects of academic stress and daily walnut consumption on mental health, biochemical markers of general health and gut microbiota in university students.

Researchers conducted a randomized feeding trial in 80 healthy male and female undergraduate students at the University of South Australia between the ages of 18 and 35 years. For the duration of the 16-week study period, members of the treatment group were instructed to consume one portion (approximately 56 grams) of fresh pre-portioned walnuts per day, whereas members of the control group were asked to refrain from consuming any type of nut or fatty fish. At follow-up clinical visits, participants provided blood, saliva and fecal samples and completed questionnaires to assess their mental health, mood, general well-being and sleep habits.

The findings showed that daily consumption of walnuts improved mental health indicators and protected against some of the negative effects of academic stress on metabolic and stress biomarkers. In particular, academic stress was associated with lower gut microbial diversity in female participants, which was improved by walnut consumption.

This study was co-funded by the University of South Australia and the California Walnut Board & Commission.

Herselman MF, Bailey S, Deo P, Zhou XF, Gunn KM, Bobrovskaya L. The Effects of Walnuts and Academic Stress on Mental Health, General Well-Being and the Gut Microbiota in a Sample of University Students: A Randomised Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2022 Nov 11;14(22):4776

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