Pecan Consumption and Cognitive Function

  • End date
    Aug 23, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Georgia
Updated on 23 May 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


Human cognitive function is affected by age-related changes, with some areas beginning to decline in mid-adulthood and worsening with age. However, there is evidence that dietary interventions or the incorporation of certain healthy foods or nutrients, into the diet can have protective effects against cognitive decline. These foods include nutrients such as polyunsaturated fats, vitamins E and C, and polyphenols. Pecans are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants (including polyphenols), and vitamin E. Pecans contain more total phenols than any other tree nut suggesting that they may be an ideal bioactive food to enhance cognitive performance; however, the relationship between pecan consumption and cognitive functioning has never been assessed. The overall goal behind this research is to determine the relationship between antioxidant-rich pecans and cognitive functioning in a postprandial state.


This trial will be a double-blinded, randomized, cross-over design in humans. There will be two study visits for two different test meals administered in random order. The two testing visits (v1 and v2) include blood draws and repetitions of the cognitive battery after consuming one of the two different test meals containing 1% milk, Nesquik, and either: 1) pecans, or 2) heavy whipping cream. There will be a 6-8 day washout period between each study visit.

Hypothesis: Investigators hypothesize that the pecan-enriched meal will 1.) improve performance on select measures of postprandial cognitive functioning (such as executive functioning, memory, learning, attention, and processing speed) 2.) improve postprandial markers of glycemic control, inflammation, antioxidant capacity, coagulation potential, and 3.) present a similar suppression of subjective appetite compared to the isocaloric, control meal that does not contain pecans.

Condition Healthy
Treatment Pecan Breakfast Shake, Cream Breakfast Shake
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05230212
SponsorUniversity of Georgia
Last Modified on23 May 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

to 30-years-old
Healthy individuals
Men and Women
Normal body mass index (BMI) (18.5-24.9kg/m2). If BMI is 25 or greater, subjects can still qualify if their body fat percentage falls within healthy ranges defined as Men: 5-20%, and Women: 15-30% [22]
Individuals with normal or corrected to normal vision
Low-risk alcohol use as assessed by the AUDIT questionnaire (need a score of 7 or lower)
No or minimal depression symptoms as indicated by the Beck's Depression Inventory (need a score of 9 or lower)
Cognitive competence for education level and age as measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination (need a score of 26 or higher)

Exclusion Criteria

All chronic diseases (including, but not limited to, renal or bowel diseases, cardiovascular disease, and any form of diabetes)
Known neurological, cognitive, or psychiatric conditions (including, but not limited to, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression)
Prescription medication use (with the exception of female contraception methods)
Dietary supplement use (including, but not limited to, multivitamins and fish oil supplements)
Alcohol intake >3 drinks/d for males or >2 drinks/d for females
Diagnosis of ADHD or a learning difficulty (including, but not limited to, dyslexia)
History of head injury (defined as loss of consciousness more than 10 minutes)
History of inflammatory disorders (including, but not limited to, migraines, stroke, hypertension, hypercoagulation, vascular disease, thyroid conditions, blood disorders, coagulation disorders)
Food allergies/sensitivities to foods provided in this protocol including tree nuts, gluten, and or lactose/dairy
Regular consumption of nuts and/or nut butters defined as consumption of >2 servings (60g) of tree nuts or nut butters (e.g., peanut butter, almond butter) per week
High caffeine consumption, defined as >400mg/d
Individuals adhering to special diets (including, but not limited to, the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, Atkins diet, vegan diet, vegetarian diet, or carbohydrate-restricted diets)
Illicit drug use
Smoking or use of tobacco products
History of current renal or bowel disease
Females who are currently pregnant or lactating
Active individuals (defined as performing >5 hours/week of scheduled exercise)
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