Ever forget a name you should know, had a fact at the tip of your tongue you couldn’t quite remember, or walk into a room and forget why you were there? Wish there was something you could do to improve your memory? What if you learned nuts may help improve your brain health when eaten on a consistent basis?
Nuts and Cognitive Function
Many studies have shown that adults who regularly consume nuts (>2 servings/week) had better overall brain health and function than adults who rarely or never consumed nuts. Better cognitive function can be described as strengthening in brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, and memory. Walnuts seem to have an especially protective effect on cognitive function. A Mediterranean diet combined with regular consumption of nuts (specifically almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts) appears to help lower risk of depression and lower prevalence of developing cognitive impairment with age.
Nuts and Mood
A hormonal imbalance of the serotonin levels in the brain can negatively influence mood and may lead to depression. Regular consumption of nuts has been linked with a lower risk of depression. Nuts are rich in tryptophan – a precursor for serotonin – which may explain their role in mood regulation.
Nuts and Memory
It has been shown that regular consumption of nuts, specifically Brazil nuts, can help improve the cognitive function of older adults.
Nuts and Brain Health
There are several brain health benefits from eating nuts due to the wide variety of essential nutrients they contain. For example, they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which help improve communication between brain cells, along with magnesium and calcium. Vitamin E is important as it works as an antioxidant to protect our cells and cell membranes. Nuts also contain iron, which is necessary to deliver adequate oxygen supplies to the brain.
Whether you eat Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, or walnuts, you will reap the benefits of a wide range of nutrients important for brain health and cognitive function. So the next time you find yourself in need of a brain boost, try reaching for a handful of nuts!
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Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.