Eating more nuts each day tied to less weight gain
Eating an additional half serving of nuts each day was associated with less weight gain and a reduced risk for obesity, according to findings published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.
“Our research demonstrated that in these men and women who increased their intake of nuts, they did not gain more weight, and in fact there is evidence for less long-term weight gain,” Deirdre K. Tobias, ScD, associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Healio Primary Care. “Therefore, adding nuts to your diet, particularly at the expense of less healthy snack foods, can be part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern and help prevent long-term gradual weight gain.”
Tobias and colleagues evaluated the association between changes in nut consumption and weight change in three independent cohorts of U.S. men and women. Their analysis included almost 145,000 participants aged 24 to 75 years at enrollment who were followed for 2 decades or more.
Although peanuts are technically legumes, researchers considered them part of the nut food group within the study, as peanuts have a similar nutrient profile to nuts and are typically considered nuts by consumers.
The researchers found that the average weight gain of all participants was 0.32 kg each year. In addition, a daily increase in nut consumption of 14 g was significantly associated with less weight gain over 4 years. Lower weight gain was associated with increased total consumption of nuts (0.19 kg; 95% CI, –0.21 to –0.17), walnuts (-0.37 kg; 95% CI, –0.45 to –0.3), other tree nuts (–0.36 kg; 95% CI, –0.4 to –0.31) and peanuts (–0.15 kg; 95% CI, –0.19 to –0.11).
Researchers also identified an association between a lowered risk for obesity and increased total nut consumption (RR = 0.97; 95% CI, 0.96-0.99), walnut intake (RR = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.81-0.89) and other tree nut consumption (RR = 0.89; 95% CI, 0.87-0.91).
Tobias, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Healio Primary Care that findings suggest that consumers should not react negatively to the total fat seen on nutrition labels.
“The days of identifying fat as unhealthy or causing weight gain are behind us,” she said. “Nuts are a natural whole food and easy to incorporate into the diet in so many ways, as a snack, topping or ingredient in many dishes.
“Thinking about the quality and quantity of the foods we eat, instead of just the numbers of fat and carbs, will take patients a long way in making the right choices,” she continued. – by Erin Michael
Disclosures: Tobias reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.