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Approved Research

Nuts4Brain - Relationship between nut consumption and mental health outcomes throughout adulthood

Principal Investigator: Dr Arthur Mesas
Approved Research ID: 72061
Approval date: April 20th 2021

Lay summary

The pronounced population aging has been accompanied by age-related neurodegenerative diseases for which there are still no effective treatments and, thus, prevention remains the best alternative. Although it is known that maintaining a healthy diet can be a powerful ally to prevent cognitive decline and depression, the specific role of nuts remains to be clarified. Scientific evidence on the pathways behind the associations between nut consumption and mental health outcomes is scarce and uncertain. It is primarily based on similar physiological pathways by which cardiovascular health is known to be improved, although with much more uncertainty in the case of its effects on brain aging.

Most evidence published so far supports that nut consumption could improve cognitive function in aged people, but its consistency is weak, mainly because findings from cross-sectional and follow-up studies are substantially different. Although diet plays a role in brain health, these possible effects have not always been controlled for potential confounders related to other components of the healthy lifestyle. In addition, the evidence on the association between nut consumption and depressive symptoms is limited and quite heterogeneous regarding methodological study features, such as design, population's characteristics, and exposure or outcomes measurements. Therefore, this project will examine the longitudinal association between nut consumption and mental health outcomes in middle-aged and older from the United Kingdom (UK). We planned to develop the analysis during the first year after accessing the UK-Biobank data, and to disseminate our findings in the secodn and last project year. The results of our project can contribute to promote the consumption of nuts, as part of a healthy dietary pattern, aiming at delaying age-related cognitive decline and preventing cognitive impairment and depression.