Study Suggests Eating Walnuts May Help University Students Reduce Academic Stress


University students can reduce the academic stress they experience during their studies by adding walnuts to their diets, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of South Australia has found.

The study published in Nutrients suggests that walnuts may counteract the effects of stress on the gut microbiota during a stressful period, particularly in females, reports.

Commenting on the results, lead researchers, PhD student Mauritz Herselman and Associate Professor Larisa Bobrovskaya, said they contribute to the evidence that links walnuts with improved brain and gut feeling.

Herselman said that the academic stress students report during their studies negatively affects their mental health, especially during exams.

A total of 80 undergraduate students were divided into treatment and control groups, and their mental state was assessed at the beginning of a 13-week university semester, during the period of exams, and after the examination period.

According to findings, those in the treatment group who consumed half a cup of walnuts daily for 16 weeks reported better mental health whereas those in the control groups reported a higher level of stress and depression compared to students in the treatment group.

“We found that those who consumed about half a cup of walnuts every day showed improvements in self-reported mental health indicators. Walnut consumers also showed improved metabolic biomarkers and overall sleep quality in the longer term,” Herselman said.

Professor Larisa Bobrovskaya, at the same time, said that the survey has shown university students can consume walnuts during stressful periods to fight some effects of stress and improve their mental health and well-being.

“Due to fewer numbers of males in the study, more research is needed to establish sex-dependent effects of walnuts and academic stress in university students. It’s also possible that a placebo effect might have come into play as this was not a blind study,” Bobrovskaya added.

Research conducted earlier indicates that walnuts are rich in omega-3, antioxidants, melatonin, folate, polyphenols and vitamin E, which positively affect the brain and gut, University of South Australia said.

A survey by TimelyMD involving 1,200 students across the United States revealed that 78 percent of students in the United States had reported an increased level of stress and anxiety compared to a year earlier, with many taking at least one day off during the semester due to their worsened mental health.

The same found that family is why 49 percent of students reported stress while travel was the source of stress for 41 percent and finances for 38 percent of students.

image source: Dipesh Shrestha | Unsplash

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