Nuts are good for you, that is not breaking news, however a new study has revealed that replacing unhealthy food with nuts could stop the inevitable weight gain as you get older.
The research, conducted by scientists at Harvard University, entailed monitoring more than 300,000 people over a period of twenty years regarding their eating habits and weight gain. It was found that those who ate around 14g of nuts, which equates to half a portion, gained less weight and were less likely to become obese.
This was an observational study therefore the researchers cannot establish causality but there do suggest some potential mechanisms that could explain their findings.
Fuller for longer
First off, chewing nuts requires a fair amount of effort which means that they stay in your mouth for longer. This allows time for signals involved in satiety to be sent. Think of that diet tip which involves chewing each mouthful more before swallowing - it allows for the brain to catch up with the stomach. Further to this, the action of chewing itself is also thought to release substances associated with satiety. Nuts are also full of fiber which increases feelings of fullness and delays stomach emptying which in turn means hunger is suppressed and you feel fuller for longer.
Nuts increase thermogenesis
Secondly, nuts are high in unsaturated fats which according to other research increases thermogenesis within the body which means that calories are turned into energy more quickly.
There is no denying that nuts are calorie dense and therefore many may think they are a no no when it comes to dieting or easy weight management however a recent study (which focused on almonds) showed that a 28g serving of whole natural almonds (skin on) had 25% less calories than was shown on the nutritional info. This is thought to be because the body doesn't absorb all the fat from a whole almond.
The healthy choice
They are also fantastic for general health due to the amount of vitamins and minerals they contain. Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, folate and vitamin E are all present in nuts.
The report concluded with:
"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."
"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."