A new study from the European Journal of Epidemiology has found that eating nuts during early pregnancy can boost a child’s cognitive ability. According to the study done by researchers in Spain, children born to mothers who consumed 2 to 3 ounces of nuts per week during the 1st trimester of pregnancy typically scored higher on I.Q., memory and attention tests, compared with women who did not eat nuts.
Jordi Julvez (Barcelona Institute for Global Health) and his colleagues assessed 2,208 women and their children over an eight-year period. They found that children born to mothers who had eaten 3 or more servings of nuts (including walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and almonds) per week during the 1st trimester scored higher on intelligence tests than those born to mothers who had not eaten nuts. Interestingly, the association is strongest during the 1st trimester of pregnancy.
Nuts are high in fatty acids, including omega-3, as well as folate. Julvez and his team believe that these nutrients accumulate in the neural tissue of the developing fetus during crucial early developmental stages.
Research has shown that taking omega-3 fats during pregnancy can improve the child’s learning and co-ordination as well as prevent postnatal depression. Furthermore, omega-3 consumption during pregnancy not only reduces the likelihood of obesity in childhood and later in life, but it can also enhance the child’s eye health (click here to read more about omega-3 consumption during pregnancy and enhanced visual acuity).
Folate (the synthetic form of which is folic acid) can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the 1st trimester, as well as protect against other birth defects such as cleft palate, limb and heart defects and even the development of brain tumours during childhood.
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