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New Australian research has found that eating at least 10 gms of nuts per day, the equivalent of two teaspoons, could help promote cognitive health as we age.

Carried out by researchers at the University of South Australia, the new study looked at 4,822 Chinese adults aged 55 and over who were taking part in the China Health Nutrition Survey. The data from the survey was collected over a period of 22 years, and showed that 17 per cent of participants regularly ate nuts, and mostly peanuts

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Memory Booster
The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, showed that those who regularly ate more than 10 gms of nuts a day were 40 per cent less likely to have poor cognitive function compared to those who didn't eat nuts, and showed improved thinking, reasoning and memory. The findings also held true even after the researchers had taken into account demographic, lifestyle, and behavioral factors as well as body mass index (BMI) and energy intake. 

Lead researcher Dr. Ming Li, says the study is the first to show a link between nut intake and cognitive health in older Chinese adults, one of the world's fastest growing aging populations. “Population aging is one of the most substantial challenges of the 21st 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,” Dr. Li says. “Improved and preventative health care—including dietary modifications—can help address the challenges that an aging population presents.”

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How Do Nuts Impact Cognitive Health?
“Nuts are known to be high in healthy fats, protein and fibre with nutritional properties that can lower cholesterol and improve cognitive health,” Dr. Li says, adding that peanuts, which were a popular choice of many participants, are known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects help reduce cognitive decline.

“By eating more than 10 gms (or two teaspoons) of nuts per day older people could improve their cognitive function by up to 60 percent—compared to those not eating nuts—effectively warding off what would normally be experienced as a natural two-year cognition decline.”

“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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