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11th May 2019

Eating nuts during pregnancy can boost your child’s intelligence, study finds

Trine Jensen-Burke

eating nuts during pregnancy

Drinking enough water, eating a healthy, balanced diet, not consuming alcohol or raw fish – the list of how to keep our babies happy and healthy in utero is drilled into most women when they are expecting.

However, did you know that what you eat while pregnant can also directly impact how intelligent your child will be?

It’s true. According to The Times, new research has found that eating nuts in early pregnancy can effectively boost a child’s intelligence.

A team of Spanish researchers, who looked at 2,200 pregnant mothers in Spain, recently found that attention span, working memory and cognitive function were found to be higher in children whose mothers ate more nuts during the first trimester.

The expectant mothers in the Spanich study were followed up with testing at 18 months, five years, and eight years after birth, and according to researcher and author of the study by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal), Florence Gignac, this is the first study of its kind to explore the possible benefits of eating nuts during pregnancy for the child’s neuro-development in the long term.

Gignac explains her team’s findings:

‘The brain undergoes a series of complex processes during gestation and this means that maternal nutrition is a determining factor in foetal brain development and can have long-term effects. The nuts we took into account in this study were walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts.”

What they found was that children whose mothers ate more nuts during early pregnancy showed improved brain function in childhood.

‘We think that the beneficial effects observed might be due to the fact that the nuts provided high levels of folic acid and, in particular, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6,” explains Gignac.

‘These components tend to accumulate in neural tissue, particularly in the frontal areas of the brain, which influence memory and executive functions.’