Despite High Fat and Calorie Content, Nuts Won’t Make You Fat

Why nuts are great foods for dieters

One food group that many people cut out of their diet when they choose to lose weight is nuts, but recent research has shown that this may actually be negatively affecting their success. In fact, a study conducted by the Loma Linda University in California found that participants who ate the most tree nuts, which included Brazil nuts, pistachios and walnuts, were between 37 and 46 percent less likely to be obese than those who avoided eating tree nuts.

Other Benefits to Health

In addition to reduced chances of obesity, people who included nuts in their diet were less likely to have risk factors that lead to diabetes and heart disease. Nuts also suppress hunger and the desire to eat. In other words, eating nuts reduces the amount of calories eaten later in the day. The study also found that while overall nut consumption lowered risk factors related to diabetes and heart disease, adding other changes to diet increased the health benefits of eating tree nuts.

nuts for diet food

Reason for Health Benefits

It is not clear why nuts provide significant benefits to the health of humans. Some experts believe that nuts absorb moisture in the GI tract, while others believe they expand somewhat so that people feel less hungry. One thing experts have determined is that nuts do not have an effect on hormones that cause hunger, such as CCK, PYY or GLP-1. Nuts have long been known to be energy-dense foods, yet their high levels of fat caused nutritionists to initially believe they were counterproductive to weight loss. Today, experts know that tree nuts are high in healthy fats that help the body burn fat rather than sugar.

Healthy Fats

According to nutritionists and doctors, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts and pistachios contain high levels of lipoprotein-cholesterol, which is also known as good cholesterol, while containing low levels of C-reactive proteins. Those proteins have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The recent studies show that not only do nuts contain healthy fats, but also reduce the risk of abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Research Study

In the study, 803 participants, who were relatively healthy and had a wide-range of nut intake, used a food frequency questionnaire to measure nut intake. The intake measured both tree nut and peanut consumption, so the researchers classified participants into three groups:

  • Low tree nut/low peanut consumption
  • Low tree nut/high peanut consumption
  • High tree nut/high peanut consumption
  • High tree nut/low peanut consumption

The Results

High consumers of tree nuts ate an average of 16 grams per day, while low tree nut consumers ate only 5 grams per day. The researchers found that those who ate a one-ounce serving of tree nuts per week lowered their metabolic syndrome risk by 7 percent, and they hypothesized that by doubling the amount of nuts eaten each day, the metabolic syndrome risk could drop by 14 percent. Patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome have three or more conditions placing them at risk for diabetes or heart disease, such as high-blood pressure, high cholesterol or a large waistline.

The research supports previous studies that indicate that nuts, although long considered high in fat, are actually beneficial to keeping people at a healthy weight and reducing their chances of developing metabolic syndrome.