According to a study done by Spanish researchers, boys and girls who consume a handful of walnuts every day, or at least three times a week, can have significant increases in cognitive abilities, especially attention. The study, published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, found that eating walnuts on a daily basis might help teenage cognitive development and contribute to psychological maturation.
While earlier studies have revealed the influence of nuts on brain health, the impact of their consumption during such a vital period for cognitive development as adolescence has never been investigated, according to researchers from the Institut d’Investigacio Sanitaria Pere Virgili (IISPV). Walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA), a form of omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain development, particularly throughout adolescence.
“Adolescence is a time of great biological change: hormonal transformation occurs, which in turn stimulates frontal lobe synaptic growth.” This portion of our brain is responsible for neuropsychological development, or more sophisticated emotional and cognitive capabilities. Neurons that are adequately nourished with this sort of fatty acid will be able to expand and generate new, stronger connections,” stated Jordi Julvez, lead scientist at the IISPV.
The team consisted of 700 secondary school kids aged 11 to 16 from 12 different high schools in Barcelona. The experimental group got sachets containing 30 grams of walnut kernels, while the control group received no intervention. The young participants were instructed to eat them on a daily basis for six months.
The researchers discovered that adolescents who ate walnuts for at least 100 days (not necessarily continuously every day) improved their attention functions, and those who had some symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) improved their behaviour significantly, paying more attention to the teacher and being less hyperactive in class.
This study shows that eating a healthy diet is just as crucial as sticking to it and not giving up on it for teenagers to grow properly on a cognitive and psychological level.