Maternal cashew nut consumption boosts cognitive development of offspring

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Cashew nuts are a rich source of essential fatty acids. ©iStock
Cashew nuts are a rich source of essential fatty acids. ©iStock
Maternal consumption of cashew nuts during pregnancy and lactation is beneficial to the cognitive development of offspring, a new study on rats has revealed.

Researchers evaluated the effects of cashew nut consumption on reflex development, memory and the fatty acid profile of the offspring of mother rats treated during pregnancy and lactation.

They stated that cashew nuts are a rich source of essential fatty acids, which are crucial in influencing the transmission of nerve impulses and brain function.

The animals were divided into three groups: control, which was treated with 7% lipid derived from soybean oil; normolipidic, treated with 7% lipids derived from cashew nuts; and hyperlipidic, treated with 20% lipids derived from cashew nuts.

“The maternal diet with cashew nuts offered a variety of fatty acids, first through the placenta and then through breast milk, that allowed proper formation of the brain tissue in the group that consumed the normolipidic diet, inducing accelerated maturation of the nervous system.

“This acceleration occurred less intensively in the hyperlipidic group,”​ wrote the researchers in the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience​.

Memory deficits

The normolipidic diet was also able to prevent memory deficits in an object recognition test. When the supply of cashew nuts was increased in the hyperlipidic group, an increase of short-term memory was observed, but there was a decrease in long-term memory.

The researchers concluded: “The results of the lipid profile of the brain at the end of the experiment showed an increase in levels of saturated fatty acids and less Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in animals of the hyperlipidic group.

They added: “The data showed that maternal consumption of cashew nuts can accelerate reflex maturation and facilitate memory in offspring when offered in adequate quantities.”


Source: International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience

“Maternal intake of cashew nuts accelerates reflex maturation and facilitates memory in the offspring”

Authors: Marília Ferreira Frazão Tavares de Melo, et al.

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