Nuts strengthen your brain


MORE and more studies are revealing that nuts are great for your health, with benefits ranging from better cardiovascular health to boosted memory and cognition. A new study has looked at the brainwaves triggered by nut consumption, and it found further evidence for their cognitive benefits. Recently, a plethora of studies have pointed to the positive effects of nuts on cognition.
For instance, Medical News Today reported on a study showing that adding more nuts to a Mediterranean diet may protect against age-related cognitive decline and help to preserve memory.
But how do nuts affect actual brain activity? Researchers from Loma Linda University (LLU) Health in California set out to investigate. They were led by Dr. Lee Berk, associate dean for research at the LLU School of Allied Health Professions. Dr. Berk and his colleagues started from the observation that nuts have high concentrations of flavonoids — that is, antioxidants believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous, and heart protective effects. As the authors explain in their study, previous research has shown that flavonoids can enter areas of the brain’s hippocampus that are responsible for learning and memory.
These flavonoids are thought to induce neuroprotective effects, leading to “neurogenesis,” or the “birth” of new neurons, as well as improving the blood flow to the brain. But how would these benefits translate into the brain’s electric activity? The researchers wanted to find out, so they asked study participants who regularly consumed a variety of nuts to let an electroencephalogram (EEG) measure their brain activity. Before the findings were published in The FASEB Journal, they were presented at the Experimental Biology 2017 annual meeting, held in San Diego, CA. For their study, Dr. Berk and his colleagues used participants who regularly consumed almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. These participants were asked to let an EEG measure their brain waves as they were experiencing a “sequence of enhancing sensory awareness tasks ranging from cognition of past experience, visualization, olfaction, taste, and finally consumption of nuts.” These sequences were varied so that the EEG could measure wave band activity across nine different cortical regions. “This study provides,” the authors write, “objective evidence that [brain wave strength] for different brain EEG wave bands are modulated differentially by different types of nuts.

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