Those office vending machine peanuts might not be as appealing as the Doritos right next to them, but here’s a good reason to choose them when you need emergency fuel at work.
Eating nuts regularly might improve your brainpower, according to a new study by researches at Loma Linda University. The research team is headed up by Lee Berk, a scientist who is responsible for several of the studies that suggest dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants. He also studies the health benefits of happiness and laughter. Basically, it sounds like he has the best job.
Here’s why you don’t need to feel bad anymore about picking the cashews out of the mixed nuts (although you might get the most benefit from eating every variety in the tin).
All the nuts the researchers tested are high in flavonoids—a type of antioxidant—especially walnuts, pecans and cashews, they found.
Previous research has suggested that nuts can help protect the heart, fight cancer, reduce inflammation and slow the aging process because of their antioxidant properties.
But not too much work has been done on what, if anything, eating nuts does to brain health, despite existing research that suggests flavonoids can accumulate in the brain and improve its function.
Turns out eating almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts can strengthen brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory and other brain functions, the researchers found, making them a great snacking option. To learn how consuming the nuts affects brain function, researchers had participants eat nuts while their brainwaves were measured.
Some of those nuts do certain things better than others. According to the research, pistachios produced the greatest gamma wave response in the brain, which can improve cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.
Peanuts produced a brain response associated with healthy immunity, healing and deep, non-REM sleep. Go ahead, eat that peanut butter right off the spoon. It’s good for you.
Katie Moritz is Rewire’s senior editor and a Pisces who enjoys thrift stores, rock concerts and pho. She covered politics for a newspaper in Juneau, Alaska, before driving down to balmy Minnesota to help produce long-standing public affairs show “Almanac” at Twin Cities PBS. Now she works on this here website. Reach her via email at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz and on Instagram @yepilikeit.