A new study shows that increasing your nut consumption each day could be an effective way to prevent gradual weight gain that occurs as we age. The study, published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health today, shows that swapping out half a daily serve of unhealthy foods for half a daily serve of nuts – about 14-15 grams – may prevent weight gain and reduce your risk of obesity. The study states:
Nut consumption has increased in the US but little evidence exists on the association between changes in nut consumption and weight change. We aimed to evaluate the association between changes in total consumption of nuts and intakes of different nuts (including peanuts) and long-term weight change, in three independent cohort studies.
Increasing daily consumption of nuts is associated with less long-term weight gain and a lower risk of obesity in adults. Replacing 0.5 servings/day of less healthful foods with nuts may be a simple strategy to help prevent gradual long-term weight gain and obesity.
Anika Rouf, an Accredited Practising Dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says although the study was observational and did not establish cause, the research highlights how important nuts in weight gain prevention.
“We don’t need to be scared of nuts fearing that eating them will make you gain weight,” Rouf tells SBS.
“Nuts are packed with a lot of fibre. That’s what helps to keep us full for longer. They are also a great source of protein, helping with satiety. They contain healthy fats that can assist in maintaining cholesterol levels.”
However, Rouf says, it is best to eat a variety of nuts in moderation in order to maximise their nutritional benefits.
“We need to keep in mind that nuts contain healthy fats but they still contain fats at the end of the day. So it’s best to have about a handful of them a day and don’t go overboard.”
How to eat your nuts
Rouf explains that nuts don’t have to be eaten raw or as a snack but can be incorporated into your daily meals.
“The type of nuts people eat around the world vary,” she says. “So we need to encourage people to eat the nut varieties common in their favourite cuisines and include a variety of nuts in their diet.”
Rouf suggests home cooks make a traditional Italian pesto sauce using pine nuts or walnuts to boost their daily nut intake.
“Thai food is particularly peanut rich, as it is used for flavouring, thickening, and garnishing many dishes, such as pad Thai rice noodles. Peanuts (often referred to as groundnuts) are also commonly used in African dishes to make soups and stews, and to make sauces for meat and rice dishes.
“In Indian cuisine, a lot of the creamy curry sauces (particularly in the restaurants) are often thickened with a cashew or almond paste. Menu items with the word ‘malai’ signal a creamy sauce.
“Walnuts and pine nuts are commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes and salads.”
The only caveat to using nuts as a way to prevent gradual weight gain is to ensure you don’t increase the quantity of nut-laden deserts consumed.
“If you’re having large quantities of a very sugary sweet like baklava, which contains nuts, it may not lead to weight loss.”
Rouf suggests choosing a small portion of low-sugar dessert with nuts instead.
“Just be mindful of how much you are having and stick to smaller portions.”
Read more in the Clipper Magazine: Do bans on peanut products reduce the risk of accidental exposure?
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