LOMA LINDA, Calif. — Don’t let the nutrition label fool you. Just because a serving of nuts shows a high measurement of fat doesn’t mean you’ll pack on the pounds by eating them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
A new study finds that people who regularly eat nuts have a greater chance of keeping off extra weight than people who don’t — and they’re less likely to become overweight in the long run, too.
It’s the high levels of heart-healthy unsaturated fat that do the trick.
Researchers from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) led the study that examined the diets and weight of 373,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 70. Participants were recruited from 10 European countries taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study and monitored for five years.
The team found that participants gained an average of about 4.6 pounds during the five years, but those who reported eating nuts routinely gained less weight than the participants who didn’t make them part of their diets.
Nut eaters also enjoyed a 5% lowered risk of being overweight or obese.
“Eat nuts during your meal,” says the study’s senior investigator Dr. Joan Sabaté, the director of the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle and Disease Prevention at the university, in a news release. “Put them at the center of your plate to replace animal products. They’re very satiating.”
Sabaté knows that many people often believe that nuts might lead to greater weight gain because of their high fat content, but he notes that the fat levels are almost entirely comprised of “good fats.” A serving of mixed nuts typically contains just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.
He says they also provide a healthy dose of protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that can help boost energy.
“To me, this confirms that nuts are not an obesogenic food,” adds Sabaté.
Sabaté and junior investigator Heinz Freisling, PhD, a a nutritional epidemiologist with the Nutritional Methodology and Biostatistics group at IARC, have linked eating nuts to healthy aging benefits in seniors in a previous study.
Nuts that were included in the study were peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and walnuts.
The study was published online in the European Journal of Nutrition in July.