Nuts improve cognitive health in the elderly

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Nuts improve cognitive functioning

Elderly people who eat 60 grams of nuts daily have better memory and better blood flow to the brain after 4 months, according to research by Maastricht UMC+. Eating a daily portion of nuts also ensures better insulin sensitivity in various brain areas.

Nut mix and the brain
It is known that eating nuts has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease, mThere has been little research into the effect of nuts on cognitive functioning. That is why PhD student Kevin investigated Nijssen van research institute NUTRIM whether eating a nut mix every day affects the brain, and how exactly that works. His findings have been published in The American Journal of Clinical NutritionandClinical Nutrition.

Higher blood flow
Over a period of 4 months, Nijssen had 28 test subjects, all between 60 and 70 years old and overweight or obese, eat 60 grams of unsalted nuts daily. The nuts were a mix of equal amounts of pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts. Furthermore, the participants followed a healthy diet in accordance with the Nutrition Council Guidelines for a healthy diet. After 4 months, all participants scored better on the memory tests administered. MRI techniques showed higher blood flow in 3 different brain areas involved in cognitive functions. This improved blood flow can according to Nijssen explain the observed improvement in memory.

Improved insulin sensitivity
Nijssen is the first to investigate the effect of a nutritional intervention, in this case eating extra nuts, on insulin sensitivity in different brain areas. Insulin is best known as the hormone that ensures that the body can absorb glucose into the cells. But insulin in the brain is also involved in cognitive functioning and inhibiting the feeling of hunger. The research showed that it Eating nuts daily improves insulin sensitivity of certain brain areas in older adults with overweight or obesity can actually improve. Nijssen recently received the Kootstra Talent Fellowship received from Maastricht UMC+, to further study the brain’s response to insulin.

Two handfuls of nuts a day
Other results within the study also point to the health benefits of consuming nuts. After 4 months, the participants had a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improved blood vessel function. Nijssen concludes that a daily portion of mixed nuts, in combination with a healthy diet, can contribute to the prevention of age-related disorders and cognitive decline.

Source: UMC+ Maastricht

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