Including nuts in the daily diet is often recommended for maintaining a healthy weight and protecting against heart disease and diabetes. A new study has found that daily intake of nuts, the antioxidant-rich food source, is also beneficial for brain health.

According to the latest study published in Clinical Nutrition, eating two handfuls of mixed nuts (60 grams) every day can improve memory and boost brain health in older adults.

For the study, researchers evaluated 28 healthy individuals with an average age of 65 and an average body mass index (BMI) of 27.9 after they were divided into two groups. One group was given 60 grams of walnuts, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts every day for 16 weeks, while the other group was not given nuts. The groups switched diets after an 8-week washout period.

At the end of the trial, the brain function of the participants was assessed based on various factors such as brain vascular function, endothelial function, arterial stiffness, retinal microvasculature and cognitive performance.

Researchers found that the participants who consumed nuts every day showed marked improvement in blood flow in various parts of their brains. They also had a 16% improvement in a verbal memory task, which involved recollecting words.

However, researchers said the daily consumption did not show any marked improvement in other areas such as executive function, stress and quality of life of the participants.

Although the exact mechanism by which nuts boost memory is not discovered, experts believe the antioxidants in the nuts might be the key to reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of cognitive decline.

5 nuts to include in diet:

1. Almond: A rich source of magnesium, vitamin E and dietary fiber, almonds help lower systolic blood pressure, which in turn protects against heart disease. Calcium and phosphorus in almonds help in bone strength and prevent fractures.

2. Walnut: They are known to reduce several heart disease risk factors such as bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Other health benefits include boosting brain function and reducing the risk of dementia, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

3. Pistachio: It is a nutrient-packed nut that is low in calories and fat. Pistachios are a good source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. They can also help in lowering blood pressure.

4. Cashew: It is a nut rich in protein, vitamin K, magnesium and manganese. Cashews help in lowering blood pressure, blood fat levels and blood sugar and improving bone strength.

5. Pecan: It is packed with zinc and manganese, nutrients that help in immune function, wound healing, DNA synthesis, growth and development.

34 Nuts
A study has found that eating two handfuls of mixed nuts every day can improve memory and boost brain health in older adults. Getty Images