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Higher Nut Consumption May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline in the Elderly


Variety of tree nuts organized into the shape of a brain.
November 2019. A recent INC-funded study, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research1, showed that a high intake of nuts may help protect the elderly from cognitive decline.

A team of researchers examined whether a diet high in nuts might help protect against age-related cognitive decline over a three-year period. 

A total of 119 participants aged 65 and over with dementia were selected from the InCHIANTI cohort, a representative population-based study of elderly residents of Chianti, Italy. Participants were selected based on their nut intake: non-nut consumers and regular nut consumers (≥2.9 grams per day). 

Nut exposure was measured at the beginning of the study with a validated food frequency questionnaire or with an analytical tool for the characterization of phenolic compounds. In addition, cognitive decline was measured using the Mini-Mental State Examination test. 

Researchers found that, from 119 subjects, 38 participants experienced cognitive decline, 28 from the non-nut consumers group and 10 from the nut consumers group. Nut consumption estimated either by the dietary marker or by the urinary marker model was in both cases associated with lower cognitive decline. 

“The use of a panel of metabolites provides accurate and complementary information on nut exposure and reinforces the results obtained using dietary information”, states Professor Andrés- Lacueva, ICREA Academia at the University of Barcelona, Group leader of CIBERFES on Frailty and Healthy Aging and principal investigator of the study. 

The study was supported by the INC.


1. Rabassa, M., Zamora-Ros, R., Palau-Rodriguez, M., Tulipani, S., Miñarro, A., Bandinelli, S., … Andres-Lacueva, C. (2019). Habitual Nut Exposure, Assessed by Dietary and Multiple Urinary Metabolomic Markers, and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: The InCHIANTI Study. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, e1900532.
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International Nut & Dried Fruit Council

INC members include more than 700 nut and dried fruit sector companies from over 70 countries. INC is the leading international organization regarding nuts and dried fruit health, nutrition, statistics, food safety, international standards, and regulations.

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