Protective effects of walnuts against stress


Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    21 December 2022

Eating walnuts in times of stress such as during examinations reduces academic stress and enhances mental health of students, especially women students, according to a recent study reported in the journal Nutrients.1


In this randomised clinical trial, researchers from the University of South Australia, Adelaide recruited 80 undergraduate university students to examine the effects of daily intake of walnuts on the mental health of university students, gut microbiome and biochemical markers. Half of the students were instructed to eat 56 g of walnuts daily for 16 weeks at the start of the semester, during examinations and two weeks after the exams were over. The rest of them acted as the control group. The participants were assessed at the aforementioned three time intervals. Three-quarters of the participants were female.


Walnut supplementation resulted in a marked decline in self-reported depressive feelings from the time of the first assessment to the third assessment. They reported better sleep quality and their metabolic biomarkers improved too. The gut microbiome diversity also improved among women participants. This effect however could not be replicated in the male students because of their small number. On the other hand, an increase in stress and depression was observed among students in the control group.


Academic stress adversely affects the mental health of students. The negative effects of academic stress could be offset by eating walnuts resulting in improvement of mental health and wellbeing of students.




  1. Herselman MF, et al. 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. doi: 10.3390/nu14224776.
  2. Walnuts: the new brain food for stressed university students. https://www.unisa.edu.au/media-centre/Releases/2022/walnuts-the-new-brain-food-for-stressed-university-students/. Published Dec. 16, 2022. Accessed on Dec. 20, 2022.

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