Whether it’s staring at your cell phone or daydreaming about the weekend, concentration struggles seem to be soaring.
Research conducted by the Technical University of Denmark found that our attention spans are shrinking globally due to information overload. A study published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience found that chronic stress can make your brain age faster.
They say “You are what you eat,” but the hustle and bustle of modern life can make healthy choices more difficult. Nevertheless, there is one simple—and tasty—change you can make to improve cognition.
“Nut consumption has become increasingly popular in recent years as people look to improve their overall health and wellness,” Mrinal Pandit, a registered dietician and clinical nutritionist at Oliva Skin and Hair Clinic, told Newsweek.
“Studies have shown that regular consumption of nuts can have a positive impact on brain activity in terms of promoting concentration and memory,” Pandit added.
Here’s why nuts can boost your brain power, along with easy ways to add them to your diet.
How Do Nuts Improve Brain Function?
Pandit said that our food choices directly impact how our brains function—for better or worse.
“Foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugars and unhealthy fats can slow down the functioning of the brain,” she added.
“While those rich in essential nutrients such as proteins, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids can help to improve focus and mental clarity.”
Nuts fall into the latter category. They’re not only filled with proteins, minerals and vitamins, but also omega-3 fatty acids. An essential fat, omega-3 can’t be made by the body but has a host of benefits, from helping to regulate blood clotting to fighting inflammation.
“Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help keep the blood vessels open and improve blood flow, helping to nourish the brain with oxygen-rich blood,” Pandit said.
Nuts have also been linked to better aging. A 2014 study examining the long-term impact of their consumption found that older adults who regularly ate nuts had better average cognitive outcomes than those who didn’t.
However, nuts have different nutrient profiles, so benefit the body in a variety of ways.
“Almonds are rich in vitamin E, while walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and selenium,” said Pandit.
“Cashews are an excellent source of magnesium, which is known to help with memory and concentration.”
Although many studies on consumption don’t differentiate between the types of nuts, walnuts in particular seem to benefit the brain, with one study reporting an increase in cognition regardless of age, sex or ethnicity.
How Much Should I Eat a Day to See Benefits?
For optimal brain health, Pandit recommends eating 30g of nuts a day. That’s two tablespoons or one-eighth of a cup.
“Adding more nuts to your daily diet does not have to be difficult or time-consuming,” Pandit said.
“Nuts are ideal as snacks, either on their own or mixed with other healthy ingredients such as fruits and seeds,” she added.
They also make great toppings for salads or yogurts, and can added to smoothies for an additional nutrition boost. Pandit also recommends nut butter on toast for a quick and easy breakfast option.
“It is recommended to consume a variety of nuts for maximum benefit,” she said.
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