As obesity-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes continue to grow in prevalence, the need for weight management strategies has never been greater. Nut consumption has been shown to improve health outcomes related to these chronic diseases, likely due to the vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and phytochemicals they provide. However, the high fat and calorie content of nuts raises some concern about their possible effects on body weight over time.
Researchers recently investigated the relationship between nut consumption and body weight changes over an 8-year period in 51,188 women aged 20-45 years (1). Participants in the study completed surveys about their usual food intake, including questions about how frequently they consumed various nuts and nut products. Other surveys collected information about body weight, age, smoking, exercise, and other factors. The study found that women who consumed the largest amounts of nuts tended to gain less weight over the 8-year period than women who consumed nuts less frequently. Nuts provide protein and fiber, two dietary components that suppress hunger, which is one possible explanation for the observed relationship. Despite their high calorie and fat contribution to the diet, nuts appear to be associated with better weight control over time, even after controlling for other dietary and lifestyle factors related to body weight.
Bes-Rastrollo M, Wedick NM, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Li TY, Sampson L, Hu FB. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1913-9.