(NaturalNews) One of the hottest areas of medical research currently is also one of the nuttiest -- literally. For example, as NaturalNews recently reported, nuts have been found to lower cholesterol (http://www.naturalnews.com/028831_n...). What's more, pistachios reduce the risk of lung cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/027732_p...) and walnuts may prevent breast cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/026115_w...).
Now comes news that eating about a handful of pecans each day may protect the nervous system. In fact, consuming these nuts could have a powerful impact on delaying the progression of serious and even fatal motor neuron degeneration -- including amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, which tragically affects famed scientist Stephen Hawking.
According to a new study just published in the journal Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research, pecans most likely offer neurological system protection because these nuts are loaded with the natural antioxidant vitamin E. In fact, pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut known and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ranks them among the top 15 foods with the highest antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants have been shown in a host of previous studies to help protect against cell damage which may explain why there's evidence they may help protect from serious diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer and heart disease.
Thomas B. Shea, PhD, and his colleagues at the Center for Cellular Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell carried out several laboratory studies on three groups of mice specifically bred to demonstrate the severe decline in motor neuron function that is seen in victims of ALS. Each of the three groups received either a control diet or one of two diets containing different amounts of ground up pecans added to their food. Then standard motor neuron function tests were used to determine how well the mice scored before and after they consumed one of the three diets.
The results showed that the mice who ate a diet supplemented with pecans experienced a significant delay in any decline in motor function when compared to the lab rodents who ate no pecans. In addition, the research team noted that the more pecans the mice ate, the better the fared.
"These findings suggest regular consumption of pecans may provide significant nutritive and antioxidant benefits for your body," Dr. Shea said in a statement to the media. In addition to vitamin E, the nuts are rich in other vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and several B vitamins.
Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.