A new study published by Catalan researches points out that walnuts are essential for adolescent cognitive development.
Eating walnuts on a regular basis could Benefit the cognitive development of teenagers and contribute to their psychological maturation. There are some of the conclusions reached by a study led by the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute (IISPV), in collaboration with the ISGlobal and the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM).
Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 that plays a key role in brain development, especcially at this stage of life.
In words of Jordi Julvez, main investigator and coordinator of the NeuroÈpia Research Group of the IISP, “the adolescence is a period of great biological changes: a hormonal transformation takes place, whici in turn is responsible for stimulating synaptic growth in the frontal lobe. This parto f our brain is what enables neuropsychological maturation, that is, of the most complex emotional and cognitive capacities. Well fed neurons with this kind of fatty acids will be able to grow and create new synapses, which will be stronger”.
In the study, which has been published in the eClinicalMedicine magazine, 700 ESO students with ages between 11 and 16 years old, and from 12 different institutes in Barcelona, have participated voluntarily.
These have been randomly divides into two groups: one called control, in which no type of intervention has been carried out, and another, the experimental one, to which the research team of the project gave bags with 30 grams of peeled walnuts indicating the teenagers who participated in it that they could consume them daily in a period of 6 months.
The research team has observed that adolescents who had consumed walnuts for at least 100 days over this time (not necessarily in a continuous way) saw their attention span increase, and that those who presented some symptoms of attention déficit hyperactivity disorted (ADHD) significantly improved their behaviour (in class they paid more attention to the teacher and were less hyperactive).
On the other hand, there was also and increase in capacities related to what is know as fluid intelligence which, in the words of Jordi Julvez, “is less influenced by learnin; it is inherent to the biological state of the person. We have assessed it using increasingly complicated tests, through which adolescentes had to discover what pattern a row of letters followed, for example”.
And he adds: “Overall, no significant differences were foung in the intervention group in relation to the control group, but if the adherence factor is considered, then positive results are observed, since the participants who best adjusted to the guidelines – in terms of the recommended doce of walnuts and the number of days of consumption – showed improvements in the neuropsychological functions evaluated”.
Thus, this study confirms that for teenagers to develop correctly at a cognitive and psychological level, it is just as important to follow a healthy diet as it is to maintain these habits over time and not give up them.
“If boys and girls followed these recommendations and actually ate a handful of walnuts a day, or at least 3 times a week, they would see many substantial improvements in cognitive abilities, and it would help them cope with the challenges that stage of life implies, and the entry into adulthood. Adolescence is a period of great brain development and complex behaviours that require a significant amount of energy and nutrientes”, concludes Ariadna Pinar, first author of the article.
In a near future, this same research team will carry out a study (this time it will be observational and will also have the support of the CWC) to determine if the consumption of walnuts and dried fruits in general during pregnancy influences cognitive development and in the psychological maturation of boys and girls.
This second investigation will go one step further as it aims to demonstrate that these aspects of growth can be Enhanced already from the mother’s womb and from the first stage of childhood by trying to follow good eating habits.
Source: “El Español”