Pistachios were shown to induce the strongest gamma waves, which are associated with improved cognition and learning.
More and more studies are revealing that nuts are great for your health, with benefits ranging from better cardiovascular health to boosted memory and cognition. A new study has looked at the brainwaves triggered by nut consumption, and it found further evidence for their cognitive benefits. Nuts have high concentrations of flavonoids — that is, antioxidants believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous, and heart protective effects.
Research has shown that flavonoids can enter areas of the brain's hippocampus that are responsible for learning and memory. These flavonoids are thought to induce Neuroprotective effects, leading to "neurogenesis," or the "birth" of new neurons, as well as improving the blood flow to the brain.
But how would these benefits translate into the brain's electric activity? The researchers wanted to find out, so they asked study participants who regularly consumed a variety of nuts to let an electroencephalogram (EEG) measure their brain activity. These researchers used participants who regularly consumed almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.
And they were asked to let an EEG measure their brain-waves as they were experiencing a "sequence of enhancing sensory awareness tasks ranging from cognition of past experience, visualization, olfaction, taste, and finally consumption of nuts." These sequences were varied so that the EEG could measure wave band activity across nine different cortical regions.
Gamma waves are associated with perception, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and information processing and retention, and they are generally thought to improve cognitive processing.
Delta waves are linked with a healthy immune response and deep, or non-REM, sleep. Both delta and gamma waves were highest with pecan nuts.
The researchers also looked at the antioxidant concentration of each different kind of nut and found that walnuts had the highest levels of the substance, followed by pecans and cashews.Overall, all six nut varieties had high levels of the beneficial antioxidants.
"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."