small piles of almonds, walnuts, chesnuts, cashews, and other nuts on top of wooden boards.
Weight Loss

Almonds Improve Quality of Diet Without Weight Gain

When people think of nuts, it often conjures images of a savory, crunchy snack. Some might avoid them because they are high in fat and may lead to weight gain. While it isn’t completely inaccurate, the fats found in nuts are healthy fats and include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which help decrease inflammation and lower cholesterol. The key is watching portion size, as nuts have high energy denisity, meaning they have a high number of calories in a small portion, and even just a handful provides a sufficient quantity of protein, nutrients, and calories.

We’ve shared how nuts can decrease pain levels and also support weight loss. According to the findings published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who added 1.5 ounces of almonds to their diet each day reported reduced hunger, and they compensated for the extra calories from nuts by eating less at other times of the day.

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shared the results of a year-long randomized controlled trial. The researchers compared consumption of almonds vs. biscuits — a mix of sweet cookies and savory crackers and a popular discretionary snack food — on body weight and other health outcomes in a population of regular snackers of discretionary foods. The results support previous studies that showed that consuming almonds specifically does not lead to weight gain and improves the quality of diet. “This adds to the literature that suggests that regularly eating nuts is not associated with adverse weight gain. People can add nuts to their regular diets without fear of weight gain and can improve diet quality,” Rachel C. Brown, MSc, PhD, researcher, lecturer and deputy head of the department of human nutrition at the University of Otago in New Zealand said. “This is important because fear of weight gain is one of the most common reasons for not consuming nuts.”

The researchers conducted the study using a real-life approach, where participants did not receive any additional nutrition advice. They concede that while the results did support that consuming almonds would not lead to weight gain, if weight loss was the goal, more significant results would be achieved with support from a nutritionist and/or medical provider.

The Mayo Clinic shares that other benefits of consuming nuts include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are healthy fatty acids. They may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less.
  • Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products such as margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
  • L-arginine. Nuts are also a source of L-arginine. Some research suggests that L-arginine may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and improve overall blood vessel health.

Know your portions

Ideally, you should reach for raw, unsalted nuts. But if a little seasoning is going to help you swap nuts for buttery crackers, potato chips or other less healthy treats, it’s fine to grab some lightly salted nuts – unless you’re on a low sodium diet. Be aware though, all nuts and seeds are high in calories, so you can’t eat them mindlessly. One serving a day is all you need. Reference the image below to get an idea of what a 100-calorie snack really is.

Image of small piles of nuts showing the names of a variety of nuts and quantity of nuts that make up a portion.  10 pecans. 7.5 walnut halves. 6 macadamia nuts. 10 cashews. 25 pistachios. 18 g sunflower seeds. 16.5 peanuts. 13 almonds.

Nuts are an excellent source of a variety of nutrients that support our bodies. Incorporating them into your diet- whether in a salad, tasty stir-fry, or just a handful- can provide you a wide array of benefits. The great news is that it won’t add to your waistline and can even help weight loss efforts.






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