Age-related mental decline is a problem that can be life-altering, but it's never too late to start making small changes that can help keep your brain cells safe. In fact, new research suggests that adding in one tasty snack to your daily routine can make all the difference in helping you protect your brain and ward off diseases like dementia.
Macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, brazil nuts — we love them all. And researchers from the University of South Australia have found that adding just two teaspoons (10 grams) of nuts to your daily diet might be all you need to protect and even enhance your mental functioning.
The study analyzed data from 4,822 Chinese adults aged 55 years and older over a 15-year period. According to their observations, the simple addition of two teaspoons of nuts to the participants' diet was associated with improved thinking, reasoning, and memory. Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Ming Li said, “By eating more than 10 grams of nuts per day older people could improve their cognitive function by up to 60 percent compared to those not eating nuts. This can effectively [ward] off what would normally be experienced as a natural two-year cognition decline.” Considering that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the current amount of people living with dementia globally is 47 million, these findings are pretty exciting!
So what type of nuts, exactly? Well, in this research, most of the participants consumed peanuts, and they were prepared in different ways: raw, fried, and roasted. Other nuts consumed included walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. But Dr. Li suggests that the type of nut isn’t actually so important. Instead, she claims focusing on nuts locally to you can help to improve brain health.
“China is such a large country with lots of regional food variations, but nuts are grown and available in lots of places. We have a local production of peanuts and walnuts, grown as natural products in our own soil. So from this point, we see a philosophy arise: to be at harmony with your own environment," Li explains. “You don’t have to go and buy expensive [foreign] nuts. Eat whatever nuts are grown locally to you, because they will be a good source of common nutrients.”
Nuts have long been known as nutritional powerhouses. Another study from Harvard of over 100,000 people found that those who ate nuts daily had a 20 percent lower death rate when compared with people who didn’t eat nuts. When it comes to our brains, many nuts are loaded with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and niacin — all which are linked with improved cognitive functioning.
So whether you’re looking to improve your memory or simply protect those precious brain cells, adding a few teaspoons of your favorite nuts to your diet is a delicious, natural, and easy way to do it!