The transmission of nerve impulses and other brain functions are influenced by the intake of essential fatty acids during pregnancy, lactation and childhood. Cashew nuts are a good source of such fatty acids. For the present study conducted in 2017 Brazilian researchers investigated the effects of the consumption of cashew nuts on reflex development, memory and on the fatty acid profile in the brain of young rats. The mother animals ate cashew nuts during pregnancy and lactation. There were three groups tested: the control group was given food with a seven per-cent fat content from soya bean oil. The "normal-lipid group" was given food with a seven per-cent fat content from cashew-nuts and the food for the "high-lipid group" consisted of 20 per-cent fat from cashew-nuts. Reflex development in the young animals was tested and the fatty-acid content of the brain measured, when the rats were 0, 21 and 60 days old. It was found that reflex development in the young animals accelerated, if the mothers had eaten cashew nuts. These animals also showed an improvement in short-term memory. However, the animals in the "high-lipid group" showed a less favourable fatty acid profile in the brain together with an increased saturated-fatty-acid content and reduced omega-3 fatty acid DHA content. The study therefore concludes that maternal intake of cashew nuts can, if a sufficient quantity is consumed, accelerate reflex development and facilitate memory in young animals.
de Melo MFFT et al.: Maternal intake of cashew nuts accelerates reflex maturation and facilitates memory in the offspring. Int J Dev Neurosci. Oct 2017; 61:58-67