Posted on Jul 18, 2019, 7 p.m.
Nuts make a great healthy snack and they are a good source of protein, a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, & Aging suggests that regular consumption of nuts can help sustain mental sharpness and cognition as we age.
University of South Australia researchers have found consuming more than 10 grams of nuts per day leads to improved mental function, thinking, memory, and reasoning; this may be the first study to establish a link between heavy nut consumption and improved mental function in older adults, and its findings may be useful to fighting dementia.
“Population aging is one of the most substantial challenges of the twenty-first century. Not only are people living longer, but as they age, they require additional health support which is placing unprecedented pressure on aged-care and health services,” head researcher Dr. Ming Li comments in a release.
4,822 adults aged 55+ were involved in this study who participated in the China Health Nutrition Survey during 1991-2006, multilevel mixed effects linear regression and logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the association with cognitive function; global cognitive function was measured repeatedly in 1997, 2001, and 2006. Based on findings nut intake over 10 grams a day was inversely associated with a higher cognitive score by 0.63 points, or less likely to have poor cognitive function after adjusting for factors such as BMI, energy intake, demographics, and lifestyle behaviours. Peanuts were singled out as being especially helpful in warding off cognitive decline which may be due to their anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant effects.
“By eating more than 10 grams (or two teaspoons) of nuts per day older people could improve their cognitive function by up to 60 per cent– compared to those not eating nuts – effectively warding off what would normally be experienced as a natural two-year cognition decline,” Lee explains.
Dementia appears to be worsening as the population ages, which is expected to increase with the oncoming silver tsunami. According to W.H.O estimates are that 47 million people around the globe are living with dementia, and this is projected to increase to 75 million by 2030.
“As people age, they naturally experience changes to conceptual reasoning, memory, and processing speed. This is all part of the normal aging process,” Dr Li says. “But age is also the strongest known risk factor for cognitive disease. If we can find ways to help older people retain their cognitive health and independence for longer – even by modifying their diet – then this absolutely worth the effort.”
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