Mixed nuts and brain function

Could snack choices influence your brain health? A study published earlier this year suggests mixed nuts could impact brain function in older adults (link to the study).

The study included 28 healthy older adults who were divided into two groups. One group ate a daily mix of walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios for 16 weeks, while the other group went nut-free. Then they switched groups to compare the results.

Rather than getting technical with the study design (crossover study), let’s jump right into what they found:

– After consuming mixed nuts daily, participants showed increased blood flow in specific brain regions, such as the frontal and parietal lobes.

– There was a notable improvement in endothelial function (the performance of the internal lining in blood vessels), arterial elasticity (how elastic arteries are), and the health of small blood vessels in the retina.

– Regarding brain function, there was an improvement in visuospatial memory (e.g., remembering the layout of a city you visited) and verbal memory (e.g., recalling details of a conversation).

The researchers propose that bioactive compounds in nuts, like unsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols, might contribute to these effects. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the underlying mechanisms.

A few limitations of the study worth mentioning:

– It was single-blinded, meaning participants were aware of their group (nuts vs no nuts), which could have influenced the results.

– The study was conducted in a Dutch population, raising questions about whether similar effects would be observed in other world populations.

These exciting results point to future research that could look to:

– Identify the specific bioactive compounds in mixed nuts contributing to the observed improvements.

– Establish the ideal dosage and duration of mixed nut consumption for maximum effect on brain function.

– Explore the effects of long-term mixed nut consumption (longer than 16 weeks).

– Determine if the benefits apply to different world populations and individuals with cognitive impairment or neurodegenerative diseases.

Moreover, nut consumption has been linked to changes in the gut microbiome and changes in the compounds produced by the gut microbiome (link to the study). Could this be another underlying mechanism contributing to brain function and blood supply? 🧠 🥗

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