This article was updated on July 2, 2021.
If you’re getting older, you may have already thought about adapting to a more healthy diet for your body. But have you thought about changing to a better diet in order to improve your brain?
A diet high in nuts, over time, could lead to better cognitive health in older people, according to a study from researchers at the University of South Australia.
And you only need to need two teaspoons full a day. Researchers especially recommend peanuts, for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that specifically reduce cognitive decline.
“By eating more than 10 grams (two teaspoons) of nuts per day, older people could improve their cognitive function by up to 60%, compared to those not eating nuts – effectively warding off what would normally be experienced as a two-year cognition decline,” said head researcher Dr. Ming Li, in a release.
The connection between peanuts and cognitive decline
The study looked at 4822 Chinese people age 55 and over, and found that eating two teaspoons of nuts daily was “positively associated” with improved mental function, including improved thinking, reasoning, and memory.
Lead researcher Dr. Ming Li says this is the first study to make a major link between an abundant diet of nuts and improved mental function in older people – specifically older Chinese adults. These findings contributed new understanding of mental health problems such as dementia, a major issue faced by any aging population – but especially China, where the population is “aging more rapidly than almost any country in the world,” according to Dr. Li.
If you’re aging, you’re at risk for cognitive decline, and should absolutely consider changing your diet (even if you don’t like nuts).
There is no cure for age-related cognitive decline or neurogenerative disease, said Dr. Li. But changing our diets is the next best thing. “Variations in what people eat are delivering improvements for older people… If we can find ways to help older people retain their cognitive health and independence for longer – even by modifying their diet – then this is absolutely worth the effort.”
And if you really don’t like nuts, there are other things you can eat to sharpen your mind.
A study out of Singapore published earlier this year found that eating certain types of mushrooms twice a week could boost brain function and prevent cognitive decline.