Eating nuts has long been associated with having positive effects on our health, especially our heart health. But, did you know that higher nut consumption could also be the key to better cognitive function in the elderly?
Age, Cognitive Decline and Nuts
Over 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia and the number is set to triple by 2050 . Age is the biggest known risk factor for cognitive decline. Cognitive decline simply means that your brain doesn’t function as well as it used too. However, although there is no known treatment that can prevent or cure dementia, all is not lost as a recent study has observed an inverse association between nut consumption and the prevention of cognitive decline . The findings identified that eating nuts regularly (at least once serving per week), may help boost brain function in older people.
Why Eating Nuts May Help
Nuts have an interesting nutritional composition which is essential for providing the health benefits they give us. Nuts contain plant-based protein, unsaturated fats (also good for your heart health), fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds such as phytosterols and phenolic compounds. It is these compounds that act as antioxidants which may prevent cell damage and consequently aging. Nuts have a considerable antioxidant load and with research  showing that antioxidant-rich diet patterns could contribute to the prevention and treatment of early stages of dementia, adding them to your diet is plausible advice.
A Balanced Diet Could Also Be the Key
As well as higher nut consumption, maintaining a balanced diet is also key for better cognitive function. A 2018 study, the Rotterdam study , showed that a better diet quality (healthy diet) that was based on vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, dairy, fish and limited consumption of sugary drinks – proved to be associated with larger brain volume which basically means brain health.
So, there you have it. By following healthy eating patterns and the inclusion of nuts into your diet, you may help protect yourself against brain diseases. Try the ideas below for some quick and easy ways to add nuts to your daily routine.
Go nuts for nuts
- Add nuts into your breakfast bowl.
- Sprinkle them chopped up on top of yogurt.
- Replace croutons with nuts in salads or soups.
- Add a handful of nuts to your Buddha Bowls for an additional nutrition boost.
- Mix them into your stir-fries for an extra crunchy touch.
- Add nuts to bread or pancakes.
- Take them with you as a snack. You could make nut bars or nut balls or simply roast and spice them.
Remember the recommended daily allowance for nut intake is 28 g/1 oz, a small healthy handful.
*To see how the nut consumption and cognitive decline study was carried out watch the video above.
 World Health Organization. (2019). Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia: WHO guidelines. In Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia: WHO guidelines. Rabassa, M., Zamora‐Ros, R., Palau‐Rodriguez, M., Tulipani, S., Miñarro, A., Bandinelli, S., Ferrucci, L., Cherubini, A., Andres‐Lacueva, C., Habitual Nut Exposure, Assessed by Dietary and Multiple Urinary Metabolomic Markers, and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: The InCHIANTI Study. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2020, 64, 1900532. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201900532 Arias-Fernández, L., López García, E., Struijk, E. A., Rodríguez Artalejo, F., & Lana Pérez, A. (2019). Consumo de frutos secos y función cognitiva: una revisión sistemática [Nut consumption and cognitive function: a systematic review]. Nutricion hospitalaria, 36(5), 1179–1188. https://doi.org/10.20960/nh.02566 Croll, P. H., Voortman, T., Ikram, M. A., Franco, O. H., Schoufour, J. D., Bos, D., & Vernooij, M. W. (2018). Better diet quality relates to larger brain tissue volumes: The Rotterdam Study. Neurology, 90(24), e2166–e2173. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000005691