Study Finds That Consuming Just A Handful Of Walnuts 3 Times A Week May Highly Improve Attention And Brain Growth In Adolescent Kids


According to a new study performed by some students in Spain, consuming just a handful of walnuts three times a week may help boost the brain growth and attention of secondary school kids. This is due to the nuts containing a kind of omega-3 oil that is particularly beneficial to growing brains.

Researchers observed 700 children between the ages of 11 and 16 and discovered that those who consumed nuts regularly experienced improved cognitive development and psychological maturation. Moreover, among those diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), the youngsters who regularly ate walnuts showed notable enhancements in classroom concentration and reduced hyperactivity.

For the study, students from 12 different schools in Barcelona were randomly assigned to two groups. The first group served as the control group and did not receive any intervention. The second group, known as the experimental group, received packages containing 30 grams of walnut kernels each, with instructions to consume them daily for six months.

Conducted by a research team from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, the Institut d’Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili (IISPV), and the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, the study found that even those who ate walnuts just 100 times within the 182-day period experienced the benefits.

The benefits of walnuts are often attributed to their richness in alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA), and omega-3 fatty acid which play a crucial role in brain development, particularly during this stage of life when children’s bodies are undergoing significant changes as they grow.

Principal investigator Dr. Jordi Julvez from the IISPV said, “Adolescence is a time of great biological changes.”

“Hormonal transformation occurs, which in turn is responsible for stimulating the synaptic growth of the frontal lobe—the part of our brain that enables neuropsychological maturation, i.e., more complex emotional and cognitive functions. Neurons that are well nourished with this type of fatty acids will be able to grow and form new, stronger synapses,” he added.

Additionally, they observed a rise in functions associated with fluid intelligence, a trait less susceptible to the influence of learning and inherently linked to an individual’s biology.

“We assessed (fluid intelligence) with increasingly complex tests, such as having adolescents figure out what pattern a row of letters followed,” explained Dr. Julvez.

Although previous studies have also talked about the effects of nuts on people’s health, looking at the impact of consuming these nuts at such a critical stage during cognitive development, adolescence, has never been done before.

A doctoral student from IISPV and first study author of the research paper which was published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, Ariadna Pinar, explained that their findings show how following a healthy diet is just as important as managing to maintain these habits over time as well.

“Adolescence is a period of great brain development and complex behaviors that requires a significant amount of energy and nutrients.”

She goes on to share, “If boys and girls would heed these recommendations and actually eat a handful of walnuts a day, or at least three times a week, they would notice many substantial improvements in cognitive abilities and it would help them face the challenges of adolescence and entering adulthood.”