A high-calorie food may be key for keeping weight gain in check: People who eat more nuts are less likely to become overweight or obese, a new study in the European Journal of Nutrition finds.
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In the study, researchers evaluated the diets of more than 373 000 adults from 10 European countries, and then followed them up for five years to see how their weight changed.
On average, the participants gained about two kilos over the five-year period. But those who ate the most nuts a day – more than 6g, averaging about 12g a day – gained significantly less weight than those who didn’t eat any nuts at all.
In fact, for each additional 15g of nuts per day they ate, the experienced about a 2.5% reduction in body weight increase, the researchers say.
What’s more, those who ate at least 6g of nuts a day were 5% less likely to become overweight or obese by the time the study ended.
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The results seen when looking at absolute consumption of nuts was pretty small, but they became more noticeable when looking at frequency of how often people ate them instead. People who ate nuts at least once a week had a 10% lower body weight increase, the study found.
The link between less weight gain and nut consumption persisted even after the researchers adjusted for dietary quality – meaning, it wasn’t just that nut consumers ate better diets overall, but that there does seem to be something specific about the nuts that helps ward off weight gain.
So how can nuts be protective for your waistline? Seems counterintuitive, since they are a calorie-dense snack. Each 28g serving of walnuts, for instance, contains 753 kilojoules. That’s just 14 walnut halves.
But they can help keep your weight in check for a few reasons: First, their combo of fibre and protein can help keep you full for longer. Their unsaturated fat and protein content can also help you burn more calories at rest, the researchers say.
Plus, the way you chew nuts allows for a low level of fat absorption, possibly meaning you take in less energy from them.
So don’t be afraid to add these high-calorie options to your diet: Just portion them out beforehand so you’re not taking in more than you think. If you’re not careful – say, you eat your nuts straight from the can or bag – you can easily eat way more than a serving.
As for an added bonus? Eating nuts brings other health benefits too, like cutting junk food cravings and improving your memory.
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