Higher versus lower nut consumption and changes in cognitive performance over two years in a population at risk of cognitive decline: a cohort study

Year Published: 2023


Am J Clin Nutr


Jiaqi Ni, Stephanie K Nishi, Nancy Babio, Emili Ros, F Javier Basterra-Gortari, Dolores Corella, Castañer O, J Alfredo Martínez, Ángel M Alonso-Gómez, Julia Wärnberg, Jesús Vioque, Dora Romaguera, José López-Miranda, Ramon Estruch, Francisco J Tinahones, José Manuel Santos-Lozano, J Lluís Serra-Majem et al


Background: Tree nuts and peanuts (henceforth, nuts) are nutrient-dense foods rich in neuroprotective components; thus, their consumption could benefit cognitive health. However, evidence to date is limited and inconsistent regarding the potential benefits of nuts for cognitive function. Objective: To prospectively evaluate the association between nut consumption and 2-y changes in cognitive performance in older adults at cognitive decline risk. Methods: A total of 6,630 participants aged 55 to 75 y (mean age 65.0±4.9 y, 48.4% women) with overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome completed a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire and a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests at baseline and a 2-y follow-up. Composite cognitive scores were used to assess global, general, attention, and executive function domains. Nut consumption was categorized as <1, ≥1 to <3, ≥3 to <7, and ≥7 servings/wk (1 serving=30 g). Multivariable-adjusted linear regression models were fitted to assess associations between baseline nut consumption and 2-y cognitive changes.

Key Findings

Key Findings: Results: Nut consumption was positively associated with 2-y changes in general cognitive function (P-trend <0.001). Compared with participants consuming <1 serving/wk of nuts, those categorized as consuming ≥3 to <7 and ≥7 servings/wk showed more favorable changes in general cognitive performance (β z-score [95% CI] = 0.06 [0.00,0.12] and 0.13 [0.06,0.20], respectively). No significant changes were observed in the multivariable-adjusted models for other cognitive domains assessed. Conclusion: Frequent nut consumption was associated with a smaller decline in general cognitive performance over 2 y in older adults at risk of cognitive decline. Randomized clinical trials to verify our findings are warranted.