Most people gain weight as they age, but a diet that includes healthy helpings of nuts may just help keep that weight gain under control, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Nutrition.
Because nuts are high in fat and calories, you might think they’re a natural culprit when it comes to weight gain, but this study actually shows that older adults who ate more peanuts and tree nuts had a lower overall weight gain and risk of obesity over five years.
The nuts included in the study were:
The study looked at 373,293 European men and women who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Participants who ate the most nuts gained less overall weight during the five year period and had a five percent lower risk of obesity.
HOW NUTS CONTROL WEIGHT GAIN
In a press release about the study, director of the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle and Disease Prevention at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Joan Sabaté, said, “Eat nuts during your meal. Put them at the center of your plate to replace animal products. They’re very satiating.”
That they’re satiating may be why nuts help control weight gain. Satiating foods help us feel full faster and stay feeling full for longer. So, a handful of nuts at lunch may add a lot of fat and calories to your meal, but that handful also stops you from reaching for the office candy jar later in the day.
You don’t have to add nuts to a meal to get these benefits. There’s evidence that snacking on nuts can also help control appetite and therefore weight gain. A 2011 study found that people who snacked on peanuts, for example, naturally ate fewer calories throughout the day.
NUTS AND YOUR HEALTH
Of course, this isn’t the first study looking at how nuts relate to our health. A 2016 studyfound that eating about three daily tablespoons of nuts each day protects us from chronic disease.
In 2010, another study found that eating around 67 grams of nuts per day (that’s around six tablespoons) lowers cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. In that study, the researchers cited previous research showing ”that frequent nut consumption does not lead to weight gain.”
HOW TO ADD NUTS TO YOUR DIET
Like Sabaté suggests, you can replace some or all of the protein at a meal with nuts. They’re a great way to add protein and fiber to salads or wraps. I also like to add a handful of nuts to soups just before serving to make them more filling and add some crunch. And, of course, you can just grab a handful of cashews to sate you during your next snack attack.
If you’re trying to add nuts to your diet, drinking almond milk is probably not the way to go. Most commercial almond milks contain barely any almonds. Even if you make your own, you’re straining away the pulp, which gives you that good, filling fiber. You’re better off getting your daily servings of nuts from eating them, if you’re doing it strictly for the health benefits.