The inclusion of nuts in the diet is associated with a decreased risk of coronary artery disease, hypertension, gallstones, diabetes, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and visceral obesity. Frequent consumption of berries seems to be associated with improved cardiovascular and cancer outcomes, improved immune function, and decreased recurrence of urinary tract infections; the consumption of nuts and berries is associated with reduction in oxidative damage, inflammation, vascular reactivity, and platelet aggregation, and improvement in immune functions. However, only recently have the effects of nut and berry consumption on the brain, different neural systems, and cognition been studied. There is growing evidence that the synergy and interaction of all of the nutrients and other bioactive components in nuts and berries can have a beneficial effect on the brain and cognition. Regular nut consumption, berry consumption, or both could possibly be used as an adjunctive therapeutic strategy in the treatment and prevention of several neurodegenerative diseases and age-related brain dysfunction. A number of animal and a growing number of human studies show that moderate-duration dietary supplementation with nuts, berry fruit, or both is capable of altering cognitive performance in humans, perhaps forestalling or reversing the effects of neurodegeneration in aging.
© 2014 American Society for Nutrition.