For many lovers of nuts, who panic over gaining excess weight, an observational study by researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston, U.S, has found that there is no need to worry as eating walnuts, almond nuts, cashew nuts could help lower cholesterol when eaten as part of a balanced diet.
The scientists found that despite their high calorie counts, daily doses of nuts might help people keep off excess weight, especially when nuts are substituted for less healthy foods.
Researchers followed 126,190 healthy middle-aged adults of 20 to 24 years. At the beginning of the investigation, participants were typically at a healthy weight or slightly overweight. By the end of the study, about 17percent of participants had become obese.
According to the report on British Medical Journal, people who increased their total nut consumption by a half-serving a day (14 grams, or about half an ounce) were 3 percent less likely to become obese.
The report also showed that boosting daily walnut consumption by a similar amount was associated with a 15 percent lower obesity risk, while adding tree nuts like cashews and almonds was tied to an 11 percent lower obesity risk.
A senior study author Deirdre Tobias of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, said increasing nuts in the diet may help maintain a healthy body weight in several ways.
Tobias advised that in order to get the most health benefit from eating more nuts, people should avoid nuts coated with salt and sugar.
Adding that, one possible explanation could be that chewing nuts takes a lot of effort, making people less likely to eat anything else. He also noted that nuts are high in fiber, which can increase the feeling of satiety and delay stomach emptying, thus suppressing hunger and making the person feel fuller for longer.
What is more, nut fiber binds better to fats in the gut, which causes more calories to be excreted, explained the authors.
Furthermore, nuts are high in unsaturated fats, which, according to some studies, increase the oxidation of fats and thermogenesis, helping turn calories into energy at a faster rate.
Xiaoran Liu, Ph.D., a research associate in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston, MA, and colleagues wrote, “Our results indicate that increased consumption of total nuts or any types of nut (including peanuts) is associated with less long term weight gain, despite being calorically dense.”
They went on to conclude saying “Incorporating nuts as part of a healthy dietary pattern by replacing less healthful foods may help mitigate the gradual weight gain common during adulthood and beneficially contribute to the prevention of obesity.”