Carey, A.N., S.M. Poulose, B. Shukitt-Hale, 2012. The beneficial effects of tree nuts on the aging brain. Nutrition and Aging. 1:55–67.
Dietary patterns may play an important role in protecting the brain from the cellular and cognitive dysfunction associated with the aging process and neurodegenerative diseases. Tree nuts are showing promise as possible dietary interventions for age-related brain dysfunction. Tree nuts are an important source of essential nutrients, like vitamin E, folate, and fiber. Tree nuts also contain a variety of components, such as phytochemicals like flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and phenolic acids, as well as monounsaturated and omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids that have the potential to combat age-related brain dysfunction. Evidence is accumulating that suggests that tree nuts and their bioactive constituents have the potential to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, as indicated by decreased lipid peroxidation in vivo and reduced production of the free radical nitric oxide and the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha in vitro. Also, tree nut consumption might have the ability to mitigate some of the cognitive decline associated with aging. Here we review the current knowledge of how the consumption of nuts may improve brain health, specifically focusing on walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and pecans.