Objective. To determine the relationship between consumption of all types of nuts, tree nuts, and peanut and peanut butter and specific memory domains of cognitive function in a community-dwelling elderly population.

Design. Cross-sectional analysis using clinic data from the Biopsychosocial Religion and Health Study and dietary intake data from the Adventist Health Study-2.

Subjects/Methods. Adults aged 50 and older were administered the California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT) Short Form and provided self-report frequency and portion sizes of nut consumption, anthropometric measures, and other demographic, lifestyle, and clinic data. CVLT scores were age- and gender-strata specific z-scores normed to a national sample.

Results. Although memory scores were significantly predicted by the combined effect of nut intake, caloric intake, ethnicity, education, gender, age at memory testing, history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes, sedentary physical activity, consumption of animal products, and anthropometric measures, intake of all nuts, tree nuts and peanuts were not significantly associated with CVLT scores independent of other variables. Age, gender, education, ethnicity, and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) were significantly associated with at least one CVLT domain, with ethnicity and WHR showing significance with all five domains under investigation, even after adjustment. WHR maintained significance even when including adjusting for body mass index (BMI). There is a general trend of lower CVLT score for higher BMI, except for those aged 70-79 years where the opposite trend occurs; however, these trends are not statistically significant.

Conclusions. Our findings show no statistically significant relationship between nut consumption and memory function among an elderly Seventh-day Adventist population after adjusting for demographic, clinical, and lifestyle factors. Waist-to-hip ratio is significantly associated with memory, suggesting the need to further investigate the role of adiposity in cognitive ability in a healthy population of elderly adults.




School of Public Health

First Advisor

Karen Jaceldo-Siegl

Second Advisor

Kelly R. Morton

Third Advisor

Joan Sabaté

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Nuts -- Health aspects; Aging -- Nutritional aspects; Nutrition and health; Nutrition -- Religious aspects -- Seventh-day Adventists; Cognition disorders -- Age factors; Memory disorders in old age; Nuts; Aging -- physiology; Nutrition Assessment -- in old age; Elder Nutritional Physiological Phenomena; Cognition Disorders -- in old age; Memory Disorders -- in old age; Functional Food; Cross-Sectional Studies



Page Count

ix; 112

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives