Grab another handful of nuts - the latest research continues to confirm that despite being high in calories, nuts are a great snack for keeping your weight in check.
In fact, Harvard researchers have gone a step further suggesting:
“Nuts may actually help the battle of the bulge”
So, what does that latest research say?
PASS THE PISTACHIOS PLEASE
There’s more to learn from French women and their diets. A new French study has found women that ate pistachios daily significantly boosted their nutrient intakes, without any weight gain (1).
The study, published in Appetite journal, involved 60 healthy women, that didn’t eat nuts. Half continued their normal diet (with no nuts) and half ate 44g of pistachios a day as their mid-morning snack.
At the end of 12 weeks, the women snacking on pistachios had better nutrient intakes, with significantly higher levels of good fats, some B group vitamins, copper, manganese, and zinc, compared to the non-nut eaters. There was also no change to their weight or body composition.
Researchers said the extra calories in pistachios helped to trigger satiety and this appetite control helped to offset any potential weight gain.
The study is consistent with previous studies on tree nuts and weight, and it supports health recommendations to eat a handful of nuts a day.
CAN NUTS CURB MIDDLE-AGE SPREAD?
Eating just 14g of nuts a day could help stop weight gain, especially as you get older, according to a study from Harvard University (2).
The Harvard researchers analysed the diets, weights and exercise habits of more than 145,000 middle-aged men and women, based on data collected as part of three major US longitudinal studies - the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, Nurses’ Health Study, and the Nurses’ Health Study II.
Their findings, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed people who went from never eating nuts, to eating 14g a day (around half a handful) had a lower risk of long-term weight gain and reduced their risk of obesity by 16 per cent.
Researchers noted swapping a 14g of nuts for less healthy foods like chips and desserts could be a simple strategy to help prevent gradual weight gain and obesity.
On average Australians eat just 4.6g of nuts a day, well short of the 14g observed in this study and the recommended 30g a day (3).
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health research associate and one of the study authors, Dr Xiaoran Liu said:
"Nuts have protein and fibre, which help us feel full longer and offset cravings for junk food. Although nuts are high in calories, up to 20 per cent of calories from nut consumption will be excreted from our body”
LESS KILOJOULES (CALORIES) THAN YOU THINK
Good news, especially if your New Year’s resolution has you counting kilojoules (or calories in old currency). When it comes to eating nuts, you don’t absorb as many kilojoules as you think.
The standard way for determining kilojoules for food labels - the Atwater system - calculates kilojoules based on grams of fat, protein, carbs and alcohol in a particular food. It doesn’t take into account how our bodies metabolise food.
That’s where nuts with their delicious crunch are unique. The fibrous cell structure of nuts stops our bodies from absorbing all the calories they contain. Research shows for almonds its 32 per cent fewer calories than identified by the Atwater system, 21 per cent less for walnuts, 16 per cent fewer for cashews and 5 per cent less for pistachios (4-7).
The difference is so significant that the lower calorie count has recently been applied to food labels on whole nut bars in the US (the US still use calories on food labels whereas here in Australia we have updated to use kilojoules).
For more information on nuts and weight check out the Nuts for life website:
About Nuts for Life
Nuts for Life is Australia’s leading independent authority on the nutrition and health benefits of tree nut. It is a health education initiative from the Australian tree nut industry and is funded by the Hort Frontiers Healthy Food Fund, with co-investment from the Australian tree nut industry and contributions from the Australian Government.
1. Fantino M et al. Daily consumption of pistachios over 12 weeks improves dietary profile without increasing body weight in healthy women: A randomized controlled intervention. Appetite, Volume 144, January 2020, 104483 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104483.
2. Liu X et al. Changes in nut consumption influence long-term weight change in US men and women. bmjnph. 23 Sept 2019 doi:10.1136/ bmjnph-2019-000034 https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/bmjnph/early/2019/08/27/bmjnph-2019-000034.full.pdf
3. Nikodijevic CJ et al. Nut consumption in a representative survey of Australians: a secondary analysis of the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (accepted for publication 20th September 2019, Public Health Nutrition).
4. Novotny J et al. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug; 96(2): 296–301.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3396444/
5. Baer D et al. Walnuts Consumed by Healthy Adults Provide Less Available Energy than Predicted by the Atwater Factors. J Nutr. 2016 Jan;146(1):9-13. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.217372 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26581681
6. Baer D et al. Metabolizable Energy from Cashew Nuts is Less than that Predicted by Atwater Factors. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 24;11(1). pii: E33. doi: 10.3390/nu11010033. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30586843
7. Baer D et al. Measured energy value of pistachios in the human diet. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jan;107(1):120-5. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511002649. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21733319
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