Subject: Body weight · Cognitive function
The post-lunch dip in cognition is a well-established phenomenon of decreased alertness, memory and vigilance after lunch consumption. Lunch composition reportedly influences the post-lunch dip. Moreover, dieting is associated with cognitive function impairments. The negative effects of dieting have been reversed with nut-supplemented diets. The aims of this study were to (1) evaluate the acute effect of an almond-enriched high-fat lunch or high-carbohydrate lunch on the post-lunch decline in cognitive function, and (2) evaluate the effects of chronic almond consumption as part of an energy-restricted diet on the memory and attention domains of cognitive function. In total, eighty-six overweight and obese adults were randomised to consume either an almond-enriched diet (AED) or a nut-free control diet (NFD) over a 12-week weight loss intervention. Participants were also randomised to receive either an almond-enriched high-fat lunch (A-HFL) (>55 % energy from fat, almonds contributing 70-75 % energy) or a high-carbohydrate lunch (HCL) (>85 % energy from carbohydrates) at the beginning and end of the weight loss intervention. Memory and attention performance indices decreased after lunch consumption (P<0·001). The A-HFL group ameliorated the decline in memory scores by 57·7 % compared with the HCL group (P=0·004). Both lunch groups had similar declines in attention. Moreover, memory and attention performance indices increased after the 12-week intervention period (P<0·05) with no difference between the AED and NFD groups. In conclusion, almond consumption at a midday meal can reduce the post-lunch dip in memory. However, long-term almond consumption may not further improve cognitive function outcomes in a weight loss intervention.