The Grapevine

Eating Nuts Could Help Your Weight Loss Efforts

Nuts, while packed with nutrients, also tend to be quite high in calories. But with a little bit of portion control, can these snacks stave off obesity in the long run?

Two new studies, set to be presented at the Scientific Sessions 2018, reveal why nut consumption could actually help your weight loss efforts. The conference will be held by the American Heart Association in Chicago, Illinois, this week.

The first study, led by Xiaoran Liu, looked at how nut consumption could affect the body over a long period. According to the findings, a single serving of nuts and peanuts might help reduce the risk of unhealthy weight gain over several years.

"People often see nuts as food items high in fat and calories, so they hesitate to consider them as healthy snacks, but they are in fact associated with less weight gain and wellness," said Liu, who is a research associate in the nutrition department of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

One serving of nuts or peanuts, defined as one ounce, could make a beneficial replacement for other kinds of snacks such as potato chips. Over time, this can help counter the extra weight we slowly accumulate over the years.

"Adding one ounce of nuts to your diet in place of less healthy foods — such as red or processed meat, french fries or sugary snacks — may help prevent that slow, gradual weight gain after you enter adulthood and reduce the risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases," Liu added.

The second study, conducted at San Diego State University, specifically compared the effects of including either Brazil nuts or pretzels in an adult diet. Both snacks were found to increase the feeling of fullness, though the effect was stronger in those who ate Brazil nuts.

However, the downside of pretzels was the notable increase in blood sugar levels. In a contrasting effect, eating Brazil nuts helped in stabilizing blood glucose and insulin levels.

This could be "beneficial in preventing diabetes and weight gain," according to senior author Mee Young Hong, a professor in the School of Exercise &  Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University. The mineral selenium may be responsible for these benefits, the researchers say.

Among other nutty options, dietitians also recommend pistachios for reasons beyond the nutritional profile — which includes a valuable dose of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Turns out, breaking open the individual shells can also help ease the appetite of those who are prone to stress-eating. 

And while they are low in fiber content, cashews are a great source of iron, zinc, and magnesium. If you are looking to include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, walnuts should be your go-to.