An increase in nuts consumption can lower obesity risk. The journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health has published the findings of this long term observational study on September 23, 2019. It has stated that increasing the intake of nuts by 14 g or ½ oz. per day can lower the chances of weight gain and obesity.
Daily intake of nuts and reduced risk of weight gain
The researchers suggest that substituting unhealthy foods with 14 g (1/2 serving) of nuts may ward off the gradual weight gain accompanying the aging process. On average, the U.S. adults gain nearly 1 lb. (1/2 kg) of weight per year. Whereas, an increase in weight of 2.5-10 kgs can lead to a significant risk of CVDs and diabetes.
Nuts are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and healthy unsaturated fats. But due to high caloric density, they weren’t considered as good for weight control. However, recent evidence has shown that the quality of the food eaten is as important as its quantity.
In this study, the research team has analyzed the data (weight, diet, and physical activity) of three groups of people. Where the first group had 51,529 male health professionals, with an age 40 – 75 years when recruited in the Health Professional Follow Up Study. And the second group had 121,700 nurses, aged 35 – 75 when enrolled in NHS.
On the contrary, the third group included 116,686 nurses, age 24 – 44 years when recruited in NHS II. The research team had monitored the participants for more than 20 years. And every four years, they had asked the participants to state their weight, and the servings of nuts eaten over the preceding year.
Every two years, the team had also analyzed the average weekly exercise in them, using a questionnaire. And used the metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours for this measurement. Whereas, the MET hour tells about the number of calories expended per hour of physical activity.
In all three groups, the average weight gain was 0.32 kg. In the NHS study, during 1986-2010, the total intake of nuts rose from a quarter to about a half serving/day in men. And the increase was from 0.15 – 0.31 servings/day in women. While, in the NHS II, the total consumption rose from 0.07 – 0.31 serving/per day in women, during 1991-2011.
Consuming a half-ounce or 14 g of nuts per day
Overall, an increase in consumption of nut (any type) had an association with less long-term weight gain and decreased obesity risk. Enhancing the nut consumption by 14 g daily led to a reduction in the risk of putting 2 or more kgs over a 4 year period. While a 14 g increase in walnut consumption was lowering the obesity risk by 15%.
Substituting unhealthy food with a half serving of nuts per day hindered the weight gain of 0.41 to 0.70 kg in any 4-year period. And within the same period, increasing the nut consumption to at least half a serving had reduced the risk of obesity by 16%, compared to a diet without nuts. Whereas, no association was present with the increase in intake of peanut butter.
The results were true after considering the changes in diet and lifestyle, like alcohol intake and exercise. But, this is an observational study, so one can’t establish the cause. As nuts contain fibre, it can make a person feel stated for a longer time and help to stave off weight gain.
Replacing the biscuits or crisps in snacks with a handful of nuts is a better option to avoid the weight gain that accompanies aging. And it can also act as a manageable technique to restrict the onset of obesity.