Peanuts can help cognitive function in later life, research says

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Consistently incorporating peanuts or peanut butter into your diet may have significant brain benefits

Recent research has highlighted the ways that peanuts and peanut butter can boost consumers’ heart health, and now a new study is showing peanuts benefit long-term cognitive function and brain health. 

Experts explained that peanuts are made up of nutritional compounds that are essential in fighting dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, including vitamin E, resveratrol, niacin, and p-coumaric acid. Research has linked all of these vitamins and minerals with neurological benefits and the slowing of cognitive decline. 

“Since food is something that we add to our bodies every day, it can truly be medicine,” said Dr. Samara Sterling, research director for the Peanut Institute. “We’re finding that eating a small amount of peanuts or peanut butter regularly can play an important part in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia.”  

Cognitive benefits for seniors

In a study published this month, over 6,600 participants between the ages of 55 and 75, who were at high risk of cognitive decline, tested the efficacy of peanuts/peanut butter on cognitive function. 

At the start of the study, the participants reported how frequently they ate peanuts or peanut butter (less than one serving a week, between one and three servings a week, between three and seven servings a week, or more than seven servings a week), completed cognitive health assessments, and answered food frequency questionnaires. After two years, the group completed the same round of evaluations. 

At the end of the two years, those who were regularly eating nuts had stronger cognitive health outcomes, without any other changes to health or wellness. Participants who were eating at least three servings of peanut butter per week showed better cognitive function, including slower decline, than those who were eating peanuts or peanut butter less than once a week. 

For this study, one serving of peanuts or peanut butter was considered 30 g of peanuts, which equates to about ⅓ cup, or roughly 30 almonds, and two tablespoons of peanut butter. 

“Peanuts are really quite amazing because just a small serving can have an impact,” Sterling said. “They’re an energy-dense food and studies conducted in the United States and worldwide have found that eating peanuts regularly helps prevent disease, improves life expectancy, and delivers positive effects throughout the body.” 

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