If you want a smart child, a recent study has suggested that eating walnuts, hazlenuts, peanuts, almonds or pine nuts during pregnancy can help with this.
Scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) discovered that women who ate three 30g servings of these nuts during the first trimester had better scores in cognitive function, attention and memory tests.
This research was carried out between 2,200 mother-child pairs, making it a rather large study.
What’s the reason for this? Well, nuts are extremely rich in both essential fatty acids and folate, which are believed to build up in the brain tissue responsible for attention span and memory. So it seems very likely that these can be beneficial during pregnancy.
Florence Gignac, leader of the study, said: ‘’The brain undergoes a series of complex processes during gestation and this means 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.
We think the beneficial effects observed might be due to the fact the nuts provided high levels of folic acid and, in particular, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6.’
Questionnaires were carried out during the women’s first and third trimesters, where their eating habits were recorded. This included daily nut intake.
Following this, the children’s neuro-development was assessed at 18 months, five years and eight years. The tests showed that just 30g of nuts three times a week had a significant effect.
Interestingly, this figure is lower than the recommended serving in the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition, which states that three-to-seven servings a week should be consumed.
‘This makes us think if the mothers consumed the recommended weekly average the benefits could be much greater,’ Ms Gignac said.
It seemed the first trimester was key though, because the same observations could not be made for women who snacked on nuts later on in their pregnancies.