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Why Expecting Mothers Should Eat More Nuts

Why Expecting Mothers Should Eat More Nuts

Boost fetal brain development when you include these nuts into your daily diet.

Besides being Madonna's macrobiotic chef, Mayumi Nishimura is the author of a macrobiotic cookbook called Mayumi’s Kitchen. It details how to prepare whole grains, vegetables and beans, as well as seafood, fruit, pickles and nuts. And that’s great news for expecting Madonnas since research has shown that pregnant women who eat a nut-rich diet during the first trimester is linked, after birth, to a child’s improved cognitive function—such as attention capacity and long-term working memory.

Spanish researchers had 2,208 expecting mothers fill out a questionnaire during their first and third trimester. Then, after they gave birth, they tested their children at 18 months and five- and eight-years-old for cognitive function. The researchers found that moms who had eaten the most nuts in their first trimester had kids with the highest cognitive scores.

The nuts the researchers asked about—walnuts, almonds, peanuts (okay, legumes!), pine nuts and hazelnuts—all contain high levels of folic acid, essential in every aspect of fetal development. They also contain the fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 which are great for all-round neural and cognitive development since they tend to accumulate in the frontal areas of the brain that are responsible for memory and attention span.

Bottom line: As the researchers put it, “nut intake during early pregnancy is associated with long-term child neuropsychological development.” And while the researchers found just over three ounces a week is enough to make noticeable improvements, they say—and we agree—eating nuts once a day is the best way to take full advantage of the benefits.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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