Once thought of as an indulgence, nuts are increasingly being recognized as a contributor to an overall healthy diet. Consuming nuts can help improve cholesterol levels and protect your heart and arteries, which is also good for your brain. Some studies also have looked specifically at possible cognitive benefits from nuts. So, which nuts are the best nuts to eat regularly?
In the Spanish PREDIMED study, adding extra nuts to the Mediterranean diet seemed to boost protection for aging brains. Those consuming a Mediterranean diet plus an ounce of mixed nuts daily scored better in tests of memory than participants assigned to a control group.
The Best Nuts to Eat
Like other plant foods, nuts—including not only tree nuts but also peanuts (technically legumes)—are rich sources of phytochemicals. These little nutritional powerhouses are also excellent sources of vitamin E and magnesium. Individuals consuming nuts have higher intakes of folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K, lutein plus zeaxanthin, phosphorus, copper, selenium, potassium, and zinc than those who do not consume nuts.
Though nuts vary in their mix of vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats, the type of nut you choose to consume probably doesn’t matter much. You might do best by simply eating a variety of nuts (make a trail mix!), consumed as a substitute for less-healthy snacks like potato chips.
To learn more about ways to improve your brain health, purchase your copy of Brain Power and Nutrition from The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.