New Research: Nuts and Pregnancy for your future kiddo's Harvard Admission

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Nuts and pregnancy is still a topic that makes some people hesitate.  Way back in ancient times when my mother was pregnant (love you, mom), pregnant mamas were told to eschew cashews (I am even rolling my eyes at that one).  Nowadays, nuts are on the a-ok list for expecting mamas.  That is good news for many reasons.  For one, nuts are an easy plant-based protein source that can be added to most anything, and doesn’t require prep.  Many varieties are also a natural source of fiber to help keep the “number 2s” flowing.  This is especially important in the third trimester when constipation can become an issue.  



Now we have one more reason to eat nuts during pregnancy to the list.  A new study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology is suggesting that nut intake during early pregnancy is associated with long-term child neuropsychological development. In other words, eating nuts in early pregnancy may result in a kiddo experiencing the following compared with kiddos who were born to moms who did not eat nuts:

·     Better cognitive function

·     Longer attention span 

·     Better working memory



The Study Design


For all of you neRDs out there, here is the nitty-gritty: 2208 mother-child pairs from a population-based birth cohort in four regions of Spain were used.  Nut intake in pregnancy was reported through a validated food frequency questionnaire during the first and the third trimester. Data was controlled for cofounders like fish intake, omega 3 intake, alcohol intake, among others. Researchers administered tests of motor and intellectual ability when the children were 1 and a half, 5 and 8 years old.


The authors suggest that the nutrients found in nuts like omega-3 fatty acids and folate may be responsible for playing a role in the neurodevelopment.  


The Who, What, When, and How of Nut Intake


So, what exactly did these mamas eat that was considered high nut intake?  First of all, the nuts that were included in the study were:

·     Walnuts ( yummy walnut butter counts!)

·     Almonds (chocolate covered, too!)

·     Peanuts

·     pine nuts

·     hazelnuts

(Sorry cashew.  You were eschewed)


And how much?  It appears that three 30gm servings will do the trick.  


The results suggest that nut intake later in the pregnancy doesn’t impact the kiddos in the way that intake in early pregnancy does.  So making a point to get in your nuts in early pregnancy is key.  Although it won’t hurt to snack on nuts throughout your pregnancy for the other benefits that they offer.  


Be mindful that this is ONE study evaluating this topic.  We can’t base guidelines off of ONE study, but in this case and IMO, making a point of eating nuts in the first trimester has no downside. 






I enlisted the help of my two fav food blogger-dietitians to share some of their favorite nut-containing recipes to help feed that baby bump! I snagged a recipe from the California Walnut Board too bc their recipes are sooo good.

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 Banana Walnut Oatmeal Muffins by Nutrition Squeezed

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Plant-Based Walnut Meat Stuffed Portobello Courtesy of California Walnuts