Summary: Researchers reveal eating nuts can help enhance cognitive function, learning and sleep. The study reveals pistachios produce the greatest gamma waves response, and peanuts produce an enhanced delta brain wave response.
Source: Loma Linda University Health.
A new study by researchers at Loma Linda University Health has found that eating nuts on a regular basis strengthens brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory and other key brain functions. An abstract of the study — which was presented in the nutrition section of the Experimental Biology 2017 meetings in San Diego, California, and published in the FASEB Journal.
In the study titled “Nuts and brain: Effects of eating nuts on changing electroencephalograph brainwaves,” researchers found that some nuts stimulated some brain frequencies more than others. Pistachios, for instance, produced the greatest gamma wave response, which is critical for enhancing cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep. Peanuts, which are actually legumes, but were still part of the study, produced the highest delta response, which is associated with healthy immunity, natural healing, and deep sleep.
The study’s principal investigator, Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, associate dean for research at the LLU School of Allied Health Professions, said that while researchers found variances between the six nut varieties tested, all of them were high in beneficial antioxidants, with walnuts containing the highest antioxidant concentrations of all.
Prior studies have demonstrated that nuts benefit the body in several significant ways: protecting the heart, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation and slowing the aging process. But Berk said he believes too little research has focused on how they affect the brain.
“This study provides significant beneficial findings by demonstrating that nuts are as good for your brain as they are for the rest of your body,” Berk said, adding that he expects future studies will reveal that they make other contributions to the brain and nervous system as well.
Berk — who is best known for four decades of research into the health benefits of happiness and laughter, as well as a cluster of recent studies on the antioxidants in dark chocolate — assembled a team of 13 researchers to explore the effects of regular nut consumption on brainwave activity.
The team developed a pilot study using consenting subjects who consumed almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. Electroencephalograms (EEG) were taken to measure the strength of brainwave signals. EEG wave band activity was then recorded from nine regions of the scalp associated with cerebral cortical function.
Nuts will be among many topics around plant-based foods at the 7th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition at LLU School of Public Health, February 25 – 28, 2018.
Source: Briana Pastorino – Loma Linda University Health
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Loma Linda University Health.
Original Research: Abstract for “Nuts and Brain Health: Nuts Increase EEG Power Spectral Density (μV&[sup2]) for Delta Frequency (1–3Hz) and Gamma Frequency (31–40 Hz) Associated with Deep Meditation, Empathy, Healing, as well as Neural Synchronization, Enhanced Cognitive Processing, Recall, and Memory All Beneficial For Brain Health” by Lee Berk, Everett Lohman, Gurinder Bains, Kristin Bruhjell, Jessica Bradburn, Nikita Vijayan, Sayali More, Krisha Patel, Sayali Dhuri, Siddarth Mourya, Gyuhyun Park, Ankita Gujaran, and Shruti Nikam in FASEB Journal. Published online April 2017 doi:not available
Nuts and Brain Health: Nuts Increase EEG Power Spectral Density (μV&[sup2]) for Delta Frequency (1–3Hz) and Gamma Frequency (31–40 Hz) Associated with Deep Meditation, Empathy, Healing, as well as Neural Synchronization, Enhanced Cognitive Processing, Recall, and Memory All Beneficial For Brain Health
Nuts are a major source of flavonoids. They are potent antioxidants with known mechanisms that provide cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that absorbed flavonoids penetrate and accumulate in brain hippocampal regions involved in learning and memory. Neurobiological correlates of flavonoids cascade an expression of neuroprotective and neuromodulatory proteins that promote neurogenesis, blood-flow improvement, and angiogenesis supporting brain wellness. However, the correlates of neuroelectric activities that are associated with nut flavonoid effects on neurocognition, neuronal synchronization, memory, recall, mood and behavior are not well known.
Purpose Provide evidence of a relationship between antioxidant concentration in nuts and electroencephalography (EEG) brain state frequency modulation, specifically gamma wave band frequency 31–40 Hz (γBA).
Methods A study was conducted using walnuts, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, cashews and almonds. EEG Power Spectral Density μV2 (PSD) was acquired during a sequence of enhancing sensory awareness tasks ranging from cognition of past experience, visualization, olfaction, taste, and finally consumption of nuts. EEG wave band activity was recorded from 9 cerebral cortical scalp regions F3, Fz, F4, C3, Cz, C4, P3, Pz and P4 using the FDA approved EEG B-Alert 10X System™, Carlsbad, CA. Second by second 9 bandwidths (BW) were recorded through the study. The PSD BW data were referenced to eyes closed baseline task, and then Z-scored.
Results Z-scores were graphed and analyzed for each task along with BW across 0–40 Hz. The overall respective BW were collapsed across all 9 EEG channels. With descriptive analysis, the most profound observation was Gamma and Delta wave band frequencies showed the highest PSD response during the TASK of placement of the nuts in mouth (p<0.01). The lowest PSD response for all nuts studied was alpha slow frequency. It was observed that both δBA and γBA were highest for pecans with an antioxidant concentration of 1743 μmoles; followed by walnuts, with an antioxidant concentration of 2772 μmoles; and for cashews, with an antioxidant concentration 48 μmoles.
Conclusion This study provides objective evidence that PSD for different brain EEG wave bands are modulated differentially by different types of nuts. We propose this protocol as an assessment tool to determine the efficacy of various types of nuts effecting modulation of EEG frequency bands 0–40 Hz & subsequent neurochemical modulation. However, the primary purpose of this study was to focus specifically on δBA 1–3 Hz and γBA 31–40 Hz so as to determine if the suggested benefits of nuts are associated with significant increases in these specific frequencies. These data appear to support an association of nuts’ health benefits with an increase in δBA and γBA. Further research needs to be done to elaborate and understand the significance of these unique frequency patterns and ratios relative to nut consumption and brain health.
Support or Funding Information
School Allied Health Professions, Loma Linda University
“Nuts and Brain Health: Nuts Increase EEG Power Spectral Density (μV&[sup2]) for Delta Frequency (1–3Hz) and Gamma Frequency (31–40 Hz) Associated with Deep Meditation, Empathy, Healing, as well as Neural Synchronization, Enhanced Cognitive Processing, Recall, and Memory All Beneficial For Brain Health” by Lee Berk, Everett Lohman, Gurinder Bains, Kristin Bruhjell, Jessica Bradburn, Nikita Vijayan, Sayali More, Krisha Patel, Sayali Dhuri, Siddarth Mourya, Gyuhyun Park, Ankita Gujaran, and Shruti Nikam in FASEB Journal. Published online April 2017 doi:not available