Eating this amount of nuts will help you not get fat in adulthood

Despite their caloric density, nuts can become the best allies for not gaining weight during adulthood, according to new research published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

Nuts must be part of every complete diet worth its salt, and in fact, they constitute a fundamental ingredient in our rich and varied Mediterranean diet, considered the best in the world. Among its virtues, they improve male fertility and sexual desire, extend life, prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes, reduce bad cholesterol, combat anxiety and fatigue, provide a great energy contribution and improve intestinal transit thanks to fiber.

There is a widespread false myth that nuts gain weight because their caloric intake is high. However, a recent observational study adds to the scientific evidence that points to its ability to prevent weight gain during adulthood. The research, published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, examined the effects of these foods on weight control.

To do this, Xiaoran Liu, associate researcher at the Harvard Department of Nutrition in Boston, and his team analyzed data on weight, diet and exercise patterns in three groups of people. On the one hand, 27,521 men who had enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1986 and 2010. On the other hand, 61,680 women who had participated in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1986 and 2010 and finally, 55,684 women younger than those of the second group, and who had participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II between 1991 and 2011.

All participants were free of any chronic disease at the beginning of the study. Every 4 years, they answered questions about their weight and consumption of nuts in a questionnaire. Aspects such as the exercise patterns of the participants were also evaluated using the metabolic equivalent of a task (MET), which indicates how many calories a person has burned per hour of physical activity.

The analysis indicated that increasing the daily consumption of nuts by fourteen grams per day - a portion is considered 28 grams - is related to a lower risk of gaining 2 or more kilograms (kg) of weight over a period of 4 years. In addition, the same increase was related to a 15% lower risk of obesity.

More specifically, replacing the intake of processed meats, refined grains or desserts with half a serving of nuts was related to storage between 0.41 and 0.70 kg in any 4-year period.

In addition, going from not eating nuts to consuming at least half a serving a day was related to preventing 0.74 kg of weight gain and reducing the overall risks of moderate weight gain and obesity. Finally, constantly increasing the consumption of nuts is linked to a 23% lower risk of gaining 5 or more kilograms and a lower risk of obesity in the same period of time.

The reasons are diverse: on the one hand, chewing these foods involves an effort, which makes people less likely to eat anything else. In addition, the high fiber content helps to generate a feeling of satiety and delay stomach emptying. On the other hand, joining the fats in the intestine leads to more calories being excreted.

In addition, nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, which, according to some studies, increases fat oxidation and thermogenesis, converting calories into energy at a faster rate. "The incorporation of nuts as part of a healthy dietary pattern by replacing less healthy foods can help mitigate the gradual increase in common weight during adulthood and contribute beneficially to the prevention of obesity," the authors conclude.