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Why People Who Eat Nuts Gain Less Weight

People who eat nuts tend to weigh less and be healthier overall. Why is this?

Weight gain, especially as you get older, can seem inevitable. But there is one food you can easily add to your diet that can help prevent weight gain over time, and it is actually high in fat—the good kind of fat, that is!

You may believe, due to nuts being high in fat and calories, that they would contribute to weight gain, but the contrary is actually true. A new large study out of Europe found that people who consumed more tree nuts and peanuts gained less weight overall when compared to non-nut-noshers. People who ate nuts also had a five percent overall lower risk of obesity over a five-year time span.

How Nuts Help Halt Weight Gain

The research involved 373,293 adult men and women who were in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. The nuts consumed included peanuts (technically a legume), almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios. Nuts are incredibly satisfying because they fill you up quickly and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. Researchers believe that, even though they are higher in calories and fat, they keep you from reaching for a snack soon after a meal. Less in-between meal snacking on junk foods can lead to you taking in fewer total calories for the day, thus preventing weight gain. If you include nuts in your meals, you likely won’t feel the need to snack on junk food incessantly throughout the day to keep hunger at bay.

If you want to include nuts as a snack rather than as a component of a meal, reaching for a handful of nuts rather than nutrient-poor potato chips or candy will still help you avoid extra pounds. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that individuals who enjoyed peanuts as a snack consumed fewer calories during the day, confirming that this simple swap can help curb your appetite.

Other Nutty Health Benefits

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the December 2016 issue of BMC Medicine revealed that a higher intake of nuts correlated with a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and death from all causes, as well as death from infections, type 2 diabetes, stroke and diseases of the respiratory system.

A plethora of research also points to nuts’ ability to help improve cognitive health, help thwart gallstones, and prevent obesity. Scientists attribute nuts’ health benefits to their unique combination of healthy fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and numerous phytochemicals. Nuts assist in lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides and keeping your blood glucose levels stable. Nuts also help prevent inflammation, which is linked with a host of chronic diseases. The healthy fats in nuts work wonders for your skin and hair. Lastly, nuts are naturally high in fiber, which benefits your digestive system.

How to Add More Nuts to Your Diet

Researchers believe that the optimal amount of nuts you should add to your diet to enjoy the deluge of health benefits is about 20 grams a day (about a handful).

*Rather than coating your chicken breast or fish fillets in the traditional yet boring stand-by of breadcrumbs or cornmeal, try rolling them in crushed-up pistachios, macadamias, or cashews. This trick will ensure a delicious, crunchy exterior while providing a boost of nutrition not found in plain breadcrumbs.

*Toss some chopped nuts into your morning whole-grain cereal or oatmeal. They help add much-needed texture and provide energy-sustaining heart-healthy fats and protein.

*Throw a handful of roasted nuts onto your big veggie salad or into a whole-grain wrap.

*Add crunch to your chicken salad or tuna salad with some chopped roasted walnuts or pecans.

*Pre-portion out little zip-top bags or small reusable containers with 1/4 cup of your favorite roasted nuts for quick, easy, on-the-go snacks.

*Rather than spreading butter or cream cheese on your morning whole-grain toast or English muffin, opt for filling nut butter instead. Although peanut butter is an oldie but a goodie, think outside the bagel and try almond butter or cashew butter for a tasty twist on a familiar fave.

*A word about cashew milk and almond milk: While these nut-based milks can certainly be a part of an overall healthy diet, you will not get much health benefit from drinking them. They are mostly water, and since they do not contain the pulp of the nuts from which they are made, you will not be getting many of the nutrition benefits you get from eating nuts themselves. However, they are lower in calories and carbohydrates than cow’s milk.


[Image via Shutterstock]

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