A study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health suggests that daily consumption of nuts may help people keep off excess weight, especially when nuts are substituted for less healthy foods.
The researchers followed 126,190 healthy middle-aged adults for 20–24 years. At the start, participants were typically at a healthy weight or slightly overweight. By the end of the study, about 17% of participants had become obese.
The researchers found that those who increased their total nut consumption by a half-serving a day (14 g) were 3% less likely to become obese. Boosting daily walnut consumption by a similar amount was associated with a 15% lower obesity risk, while adding tree nuts like cashews and almonds was tied to an 11% lower obesity risk.
Each year during the study, participants gained an average of 0.71 lb. But each half-serving of nuts added to a daily diet was associated with less weight gain. With an added half-serving of nuts in general, people gained an average of 0.42 lb less every four years than those who didn’t add nuts to their diet, while adding a similar amount of walnuts was tied to 0.82 lb less weight gain and tree nuts were associated with 0.33 lb less weight gain.
The study also found that adding nuts to the diet was associated with a 4% lower risk of gaining more than 4.4 lb or more than 11 lb every four years.
It should be noted that the study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how changes in nut consumption might directly impact weight gain over time. Another limitation is that researchers relied on participants to accurately recall and report on their eating habits once every several years. The researchers received funding from The Peanut Institution and the California Walnut Commission.
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