Updated: Sep 30, 2019
According to recent evidence, nuts can aid weight gain, despite being calorically rich.
Nuts have a wide variety of health benefits, and recent studies have been uncovering more and more of them.
From staving off heart disease to improving men's sexual function and many of the studies that have hailed nuts protective effects.
For instance, a daily intake of nuts may also reduce the risk of other illnesses, such as diabetes and cancer, and slash the risk of mortality from any cause.
But what is the relationship between daily nut consumption and weight gain? Two studies published last year found that a daily serving of nuts may keep away the extra weight that we tend to put on as adults.
Now, new research, appearing in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, strengthens those findings.
Xiaoran Liu, Ph.D., a research associate in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston, MA, and colleagues set out to examine the effects of eating more nuts on weight control.
Nut consumption study in a large sample
Liu and colleagues analyzed data on weight, diet, and exercise patterns in three groups of people:
The participants were free from any chronic disease at the start of the study. Every 4 years, they answered questions about their weight and nut consumption on a questionnaire.
The questionnaire enquired how often the participants consumed 28-gram servings of nuts.
The researchers also evaluated participants' exercise patterns through questionnaires every 2 years. The scientists assessed exercise using metabolic equivalent of a task — MET — hours, which indicate how many calories a person has burned per hour of physical activity.
Reduced weight gain and nuts intake
The analysis indicated that increasing daily nut consumption by half a serving was linked with a smaller risk of gaining 2 or more kilograms (kg) of weight over a 4-year period.
Also, the same half-serving increase in walnut intake was linked with a 15% lower obesity risk.
More specifically, replacing an intake of processed meats, refined grains, or desserts with half a serving of nuts was linked with staving off between 0.41 and 0.70 kg in any given 4-year period.
Furthermore, going from not eating nuts at all to consuming at least half a serving a day was linked with preventing 0.74 kg of weight gain and lower overall risks of moderate weight gain and obesity.
Finally, consistently increasing one's nut intake by half a daily serving was linked with a 23% lower risk of gaining 5 or more kilograms and a lower risk of obesity in the same period of time.
Although the researchers also looked at peanut butter intake, they found no positive effects of this consumption.
Adulthood weight gain may reduced ?
Although this is an observational study, and the researchers cannot establish causality, they do point to some potential mechanisms that could explain the results.
One possible explanation could be that chewing nuts takes a lot of effort, making people less likely to eat anything else. Also, nuts are high in fiber, which can increase the feeling of satiety and delay stomach emptying, thus suppressing hunger and making the person feel fuller for longer.
What is more, nut fiber binds better to fats in the gut, which causes more calories to be excreted, explain the authors.
Furthermore, nuts are high in unsaturated fats, which, according to some studies, increase the oxidation of fats and thermogenesis, helping turn calories into energy at a faster rate.