Munching on nuts during pregnancy may help boost your baby’s brain, a new study has found.
Spanish scientists found that mums who ate three 30g servings of nuts a week in the first trimester had children that scored better on memory tests.
Researchers from the Barcelona Institute of Global Health looked at the diets of 2,200 pregnant women and tested their children’s brain development at 18 months, five years and eight years.
They found that mothers who consumed nuts, at least 30g servings per week, during the early stages of pregnancy were more likely to have children who performed well on cognitive tests.
Florence Gignac, an author of the study, said: “This is the first study to explore the possible benefits of eating nuts during pregnancy for the child’s neuro-development in the long term.
“The brain undergoes a series of complex processes during gestation and this means that maternal nutrition is a determining factor in foetal brain development and can have long-term effects.”
Experts believe the fatty acids found in walnuts, cashews, almonds etc. accumulate in neural tissues in the brain, and this helps influence memory and other functions.
“The nuts we took into account in this study were walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts,” says Gignac.
“We think that the beneficial effects observed might be due to the fact that the nuts provided high levels of folic acid and, in particular, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6.
“These components tend to accumulate in neural tissue, particularly in the frontal areas of the brain, which influence memory and executive functions.”
While there seemed to be benefits to eating nuts during the first trimester, there was no evidence that nut consumption during the later stages of pregnancy helped influence a baby’s brain function.
“This is not the first time we have observed more marked effects when an exposure occurs at a specific stage of the pregnancy,” Gignac added
“Scientific literature speculates the rhythm of foetal development varies throughout the pregnancy and there are periods when development is particularly sensitive to maternal diet.”
Other studies have found nuts helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of diabetes.
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Preparing a nutritious breakfast the night before is a great way to ensure you enjoy a tasty breakfast even when mornings are hectic.
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