We eat poorly when we sleep poorly, and we sleep poorly when we eat worse. This assumption could be confusing or even contradictory if nuances are not added that properly connect the two pillars of health: feeding and sleeping. So, after a night of poor or poor sleep, we tend to eat more and also choose foods of lower quality or with little nutritional value, generally rich in sugars and unhealthy fats. But it is also known that food quality and eating certain foods can contribute to this improve night rest.
As a starting point for delving into this line of research, University of Barcelona nutrition professor María Izquierdo cites a previous study (Zerón-Rugerio et al. 2022) that showed greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet pattern was associated with better sleep quality in a population of more than 900 young Spaniards.
Among the foods most positively associated with sleep quality, walnuts were cited for their content of melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. But in addition, walnuts could increase the endogenous synthesis of melatonin because they are a source of tryptophan, a precursor serotonin az melatonin.
Despite these associations and the demonstrated relationship between adherence Mediterranean diet and sleep quality The truth is that until now, there has been no clinical study to provide scientific evidence for the potential role of walnuts in a good night’s sleep. And that’s exactly the study, almost fresh out of the oven, presented by nutrition professor María Izquierdo during the “30 Years of Health Research on California Walnuts” conference, in which two other studies benefits of nuts and that it was celebrated at the residence of the United States Ambassador in Madrid.
Preliminary results of the study indicate that consumption daily portion of nuts (40 grams) at bedtime (either as a snack or as a snack during or after dinner). significant increase in melatonin. To this, according to Izquierdo, we must add that the participants showed an improvement in the quality of their sleep (significantly increased sleep efficiency) and reduction latency, i.e. the time needed to sleep. In addition, the study participants also showed less sleepiness the following day, which, according to the expert, is an indicative sign of better rest.
So the conclusion is that regular consumption of nuts as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, it can improve sleep quality and increase melatonin levels. “Eating a handful of walnuts a day can help improve sleep quality,” concludes the nutrition professor, who also points out that none of them gained weight or experienced changes in body composition.
The clinical trial involved 80 young adults for 18 weeks, and all followed two protocols: consuming nuts (40 grams) daily for eight weeks, followed by a control period in which they abstained from nut consumption. Thus, both at the beginning and at the end of each intervention or control period, parameters related to sleep quality (efficiency, latency, and duration) were assessed using actigraphy, and aspects of participants’ mood and well-being were also assessed.
During the same session organized by Nueces de California, another of the studies supported by the California Walnut Commission was presented, with Dr. Emilio Ros from the Institute of Biomedical Research August Pi i Sunyer from the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.
Published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, the Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study is the first controlled clinical trial to examine the effects of a single food, namely nuts, on age-related cognitive decline and health maintenance retina.
One conclusion of the study is that eating walnuts could be associated with a reduced risk of age-related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders. “It was also associated with improvements in cognitive function in those people at higher risk of developing dementia, as well as beneficial changes in the lipid profile, with reductions in total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and the number of circulating LSL particles, which in turn had a clear anti-inflammatory effect without increasing of body weight, despite the energy richness of walnuts,” explained Ros. Therefore, he concluded, these results supported nut consumption for potential cardiovascular and brain health benefits.
The latest study presented at these conferences analyzed the effect of walnut consumption on the cognitive development of adolescents. A study led by researcher Ariadna Pinar of the Pere Virgili Research Institute of the Clinical and Epidemiological Neuroscience Group revealed that eating a handful of walnuts a day at least three times a day can bring substantial improvements in cognitive abilities such as attention, fluid. intelligence and neuropsychological functions.
Therefore, during a session organized by California Walnuts, nutritionist Julia Farré, director of the Julia Farré Nutrition Center, recalled some of the most important nutrients contained in walnuts, such as their contribution of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), Omega-3. fatty acids of vegetable origin and their antioxidant power, although he recalled the importance of assessing the nutritional value of walnuts globally, because, as he explained, it is a combination of their proteins, their fiber, their minerals (phosphorus, potassium and magnesium) and its vitamins (B6), which makes this nut a valuable food.
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