According to a new study out of the University of South Australia, researchers have found that eating nuts may actually help to boost brain function in old age.
This is an important breakthrough, as the number and proportion of Australia’s aging population continues to grow (by 2057, it is projected there will be 8.8 million older people in Australia - 22% of the population).
For the study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Ageing, researchers looked at the effect of eating nuts in 4,822 Chinese adults over the age of 55. They found that eating more than 10 grams of nuts a day – the equivalent of two teaspoons – was positively associated with improved thinking, reasoning and memory.
Researchers also found that the same amount of nuts could improve older people’s cognitive function by up to 60 per cent, compared with those who don’t eat nuts, “effectively warding off what would normally be experienced as a natural two-year cognition decline”.
The study analysed nine waves of China Health Nutrition Survey data collected over 22 years, and found that 17 per cent of participants regularly ate nuts (mostly peanuts).
Peanuts are widely believed to be an excellent source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which Dr Li believes may help to alleviate and reduce cognitive decline.
“Nuts are known to be high in healthy fats, protein and fibre with nutritional properties that can lower cholesterol and improve cognitive health,” lead researcher Dr Ming Li says.
“While there is no cure for age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disease, variations in what people eat are delivering improvements for older people.”
Di Li adds that the study is the first to report a link between cognition and nut intake in older Chinese adults. "Population ageing is one of the most substantial challenges of the 21st Century,” Li says.
According to Medical News Today, peanuts rank in as the number one most healthful nut thanks to its range of polyphenols, antioxidants, flavonoids and amino acids. Closely following are almonds, pistachios, cashews, and walnuts.