Consuming nuts has been long-regarded as healthy, primarily due to their fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acid content. They are therefore a blood sugar balancing option which are great to eat solo as a snack or incorporated into a meal. The more scientific research is connecting diet to mental health, they have even been singled out to be beneficial to our brains, specifically when it comes to avoiding cognitive decline.
A recent fascinating study is now connecting the prenatal consumption of nuts to the baby’s brain health, up to 8 years of age. Not only is this evidence for the importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy, but it link a food’s effects on fetal cognitive health when eating during a certain term of pregnancy.
The study’s participants included 2,200 mother-child pairs. The mothers were to fill out a questionnaire pertaining to their nut consumption during both the first and third trimesters. The nuts involved in the study were almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, and hazelnuts. The child’s cognitive function was then assessed at 18 months, 5 years, and 8 years old. The results showed that when the mothers ate more nuts during the first trimester, the children would score higher on tests measuring areas of cognitive function, attention, and memory. The same associations were not observed when looking at the third trimester.
Additionally, the mothers’ weekly average of nuts consumed was approximately 30g, which is less than the weekly recommended intake of 3-7 servings. This insinuates that if women were to increase the amount of nuts they ate to meet the weekly recommendations, the benefits could be stronger.
The first trimester is crucial when it comes to fetal brain development. Unsurprisingly, this correlation exists because not only are nuts high in omega-3 fatty acids (which are important for neurological health), but they are also a good source of folic acid, another key nutrient for pregnancy.
If you are expecting and in your first trimester, or planning to get pregnant, realize the importance of both omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid for your baby’s brain development. Nuts are a scientifically proven way to get them in and reap the benefits. Nut butters then are just as healthy, just make sure the ingredients lists only the featured nut, whether raw or roasted (the addition of sea salt is fine).
Incorporate nuts and nut butters into your daily meals or snacks. Blend them in smoothies, top them on salads, or eat an Empower Bar for their amazing nut and seed content. Gratisfied bars have almond butter as their primary ingredient, and are a satiating and easy blood sugar balancing option when expecting!